Thursday, 23 October 2014

Personalised Children's Music CD Giveaway



A musical mum and dad have created an album of pop music for young children. On an album of 12 songs, they recorded hundreds of different names to create a very special personalised gift for babies, toddlers and kids.

And you can win your own copy! 

Take a look at their site here. We received our very own copy for the boy and the songs are genuinely very well done (coming from an amateur musician himself) - catchy and a little annoying as they get stuck in your head, but so were The Venga Boys and they did pretty well! On a serious note, music is a great way to interact with your child so this is a great product. Well worth looking at and well worth trying to win! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lucy & Richard Patterson were inspired to write children’s songs after starting their own family. The album began life as songs sung to their first-born Noah & due to his very positive critical response they then went on to record & make “The Noah Album”. It then became a lifesaver for long car journeys & the soundtrack to many nappy changes, mealtimes, bathtimes & bedtimes.

After requests for personalised versions from friends and family, they decided to expand their name coverage to the top UK names. The project grew to involve a team of musicians, vocalists & also a design company, all based within or around St Albans.

The POP Goes Your Name album is a collection of fun & upbeat songs, each written for your someone special. Children can experience a selection of musical styles, with catchy melodies & sing-along lyrics whilst hearing their own name sung back to them. The songs have been written for children in their early years. From ‘Noisy Farm’ to ‘Rock it Out’, the songs are full of themes & sounds that children can recognize & understand & are guaranteed to get Mum & Dad’s feet tapping too!
Lucy and Richard first met at music college in London & are both working musicians & music teachers. They have toured & also had recording & publishing contracts with various projects over the years. They decided to move back to Lucy’s native Hertfordshire where there is a very vibrant community of top musicians & a great live music scene. Other musicians on the Pop Goes Your Name album have toured with chart topping artists & appeared in West End productions.
For more information or to arrange an interview with either Lucy or Richard please contact:
POP GOES YOUR NAME LTD
30 AUBREY AVENUE
AL2 1LX


*IMPORTANT: Winners can only choose their prize from the company's existing portfolio of children's names. You can check their portfolio here: 

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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Yes! Win a Black Baby Grow for Halloween from SuperNatural Organic Kids Clothes

Yes! SuperNatural Organic Kids & Baby Clothing based in Brighton are giving away a super-soft organic cotton black baby grow for either a boy or girl.

Their unique baby grows are perfect for urban babies who wear black AND want to be hippest baby in town. Click here to see our review of these gorgeous baby grows. Enter below for a chance to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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How to Handle Twins - Twindaddyo


 At The Dad Network we wanted to to provide a place to work with other dad bloggers. It seemed like we all had the same motivation and the same goal, so why not work together. We want to encourage and promote other dad bloggers in order to encourage and promote the role of dads within family life. As a result, we've teamed up with some other dads and each week, we'll be publishing a guest post from another dad blogger from around the globe. Be sure to check out their blogs! 


The International Dilemma of Twins
By Chris @ TwinDaddyo.com


Going into 2009, I was happily single, had a great career and job, good set of friends, loving the Southern California lifestyle in San Diego, and genuinely loving every aspect of my life. However, I wanted a bit more excitement, a new adventure, even if a short one, to travel and experience different cultures. In January that year, I stepped onto British soil for a one-month work contract with my company. What was to come out of those 30 days was something I never expected. Now, nearing six years on, I find myself still on British soil, but my life is considerably different than to those carefree single days in the hometown of Ron Burgundy. 

About four months into living in London, I met my wife, a local Londoner, and earlier this year we had our twins, one boy and one girl. One of the things I didn’t think too much about early on was the impact of having babies in the UK and how it would play out with their grandparents and half their family 5,500 miles away in another country. Now that the twins are nearly six months old, we’ve established a pattern for how we integrate the American side of our family into our British based life. This has largely been through the benefit of technology available. We try hard to solve the dilemma of keeping our dual-nationality family connected to their relatives across the pond.
Defying Time Zones
Planning is necessary. This is probably the biggest challenge in keeping the twins connected to their family abroad. California and England are eight hours apart, which is just enough time to be annoying and somewhat difficult for arranging a suitable time. As we have the kids in a solid routine, we don’t deviate from this so we have to be a bit strict with family that if they want to see the kids, it has to be before a certain time, which typically falls earlier in the morning in California. Not super ideal, but my parents know it is worth it.
Video Conferencing with Ease
Skype is our main preference for having video catch ups. It works quite well across all of our cross-OS devices and at least one of these devices are with us at all times, making it easy to share what the kids are up to whenever convenient. There have been some issues like slow connectivity, echoing, poor quality video, but that’s pretty secondary and fixable with time and upgraded tech. 
The Power of Apps to Keep Connected
The easiest way we’ve found is to use apps like WhatsApp to message back and forth in order to arrange times to talk. This has proved helpful to organize those Skype calls regardless if we are home or not. Additionally, my Dad and I use it to chat about Manchester United games during the match, even if they’re early in the morning for him.

If This, Then That (IFTTT) is a great way to automate things like sharing photos that are easily accessible to family and friends. One I created was to upload any photos I put in my ‘Twins’ album on my iPhone directly into a Dropbox folder that I’ve shared the link to with my family abroad. 
When In Doubt, Fly Them Out
Nothing beats the face-to-face interaction, so having family in town is hugely important for us. It wasn’t until this summer that my kids got to meet any of their American family. It was important for me to have my parents here before the kids got too old, as they’d be nine months old by the time our Christmas trip comes around. 

What we’ve found to be really interesting, is even though they’re quite young, the kids learned my parents voices and even faces from Skype video calls. As soon as my parents were around the twins, they seemed to be instantly recognized by both the kids. The kids light up and are a bit more responsive on the calls now since my parents visited, which is really neat and interesting to see.


Please Tell Me It’s All Worth It?!
It is all worth it! Despite the distance, time and technology problems that can get in the way, we’ve found it pretty easy to keep connected with our family abroad. Between Facebook, WhatsApp, Skype and my blog about being a dad of twins, TwinDaddyo, my family gets to see our beautiful babies grow and be as much a part of their lives as possible despite so much space between us and them. While everyone is missed, the ability to Skype or better yet, get on a plane, allows us to still be a family and share all of the experiences of two growing kids.



Bio: In March 2014, Chris became a first time father, bestowed with beautiful twins. During his life in digital marketing, Chris has blogged on topics from music, DIY, travel and with the birth of his twins, has began blogging at www.TwinDaddyo.com, sharing his perspective as an American Ex-pat living and raising his children with his British wife in London, England. 
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Monday, 20 October 2014

7 things you must learn to do one handed


Having a baby results in having to learn to do things one handed. There's no way round it, unless you want to put on some ear defenders. There will almost certainly be times when your baby will want to be held and not put down; some babies more than others...! Therefore, in order to survive, you need to develop the skill of doing things one handed whilst balancing a baby on your shoulder or in your other arm. 

Here's a list of 7 things I can now do one handed that I couldn't before. It really is essential that, as a new dad, you learn these things. 

#1 Make a cup of tea - an essential skill to start off with. This one is a must learn for anyone! It does take a little longer, and I did burn my fingers in the early stages of learning, but it was worth mastering. 

#2 Type on the key board - Very important for a blogger like myself! I wonder if Qwerty Uiop (creator of the keyboard) catered for fathers to type!

#3 Have a pee - The zipper and 'removal' causes initial issues but again, once mastered it opens a world of opportunities. Aiming is just as tricky as it always is hence the urine on the loo seat - the wife is used to this though. 

#4 Getting dressed - I actually saw a recent YouTube video of a chap putting on a pair of trousers without any hands! Naturally, as with most things I see on YouTube, I tried it successfully, and now that's how I get dressed. (No joke!) 

#5 Eat - I eat a lot, so needed to invest some good time into training for this one. It paid off though and now cutting a chicken breast with a fork is second nature. Probably worth investing in a spork too!

#6 Carry the baby whilst pushing the pushchair and carrying the change bag - and then put your shoes on! Now that really is Britain's GotTalent material!

#7 Play the piano / guitar - both of these present their own unique issues. Once mastered though it not only amuses yourself, but also the baby in your other hand. 

The art of one handed skills... essential for every new dad! 

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Friday, 17 October 2014

4 Fantastic Child-Friendly Recipes Any Dad Can Make





Hands down, creating healthy, child-friendly meals that taste good is one of the biggest challenges of parenthood. I’ve slaved for hours over what I thought was the perfect meal, only to be met with disappointment. It’s heart breaking!

Fortunately, I’ve since learned the error of my ways. Creating fantastic meals for your children doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, usually the more simple dishes get the best response. Result! Here are four awesome child-friendly recipes that any Dad can make.

Tacos

Not only are tacos quick, easy and tasty, but children love to get involved and help make them, too. Just be prepared to do some tidying up afterwards!

Ingredients.
500g beef mince,
1 teaspoon of dried cumin,
1 teaspoon of dried paprika,
1 teaspoon of dried oregano,
1 cup of passata,
2 cups of chopped lettuce,
1 cup of chopped tomatoes,
1 cup of grated cheese,
1 peeled and chopped avocado OR guacamole,
Taco shells,
Mild salsa.

First, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Cook the mince in a large pan over a high heat, adding the herbs and spices. Add the passata, and stir well to ensure all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined. If your children are reluctant to eat vegetables, this is a good opportunity to sneak some extra onions or peppers into their meal – just cut them up into really small pieces first!

Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, adding water to loosen the mixture if required. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Warm the tacos in the oven for around 5 minutes. For hard shells, leave uncovered, but wrap them in foil if you want to keep the shells soft.

Put each of the toppings in a small bowl, and let the children build the tacos once the shells have been warmed. A tasty, fun meal that can be enjoyed by the whole family!


Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This childhood favourite is really easy to make, and can be prepared in a matter of minutes – perfect for those nights you need to create something tasty in a hurry.

Ingredients.
2 cups of full-fat milk,
2 tablespoons of butter,
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour,
250g of cheddar cheese,
450g of macaroni, cooked according to the instructions,
Salt and pepper (to taste).

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

In a saucepan, heat the milk until it’s hot, but not boiling, then remove from the heat. Whilst the milk is heating, melt the butter in a large pan over a low heat, and whisk in the flour until it forms a smooth paste. Cook for a minute, ensuring that you keep the mixture moving to prevent it from catching.

Gradually add the warm milk to the paste, whisking continually until it’s all combined. Cook for 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens.

Next, add half of the cheese and the seasoning. Mix well, until it’s evenly combined and the cheese has melted. Stir in the pasta, and transfer to a large baking dish. Add the remaining cheese to the top of the pasta.

Bake in the preheated over for 20 minutes, and serve.


Apple and Banana Popsicle

This recipe, taken from Parent.Guide, is one of my favorites. First of all, it doesn’t get much simpler. Second, the kids love it. Finally, it will get you bonus points for sneaking extra fruit into the little one’s diet. Could this be the perfect summer snack? I think so.

Ingredients.
2 apples (peeled, cored and chopped),
1 banana,
1 cup of natural yogurt.

First of all, you’ll need to steam the apples until they’re really soft. When they’re ready, use a blender or food processor to blend all of the ingredients until completely smooth.

Finally, divide the mixture into Popsicle molds, and freeze.

These treats are perfect for children of all ages, and can be given to young babies to help combat any soreness associated with teething.

Strawberry and Banana Smoothie

For a simple, but healthy, dessert or snack, smoothies are an excellent choice. The Healthy Ideas Place suggests this is another great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen, as making the perfect smoothie doesn’t take much skill or preparation. Here’s their strawberry and banana smoothie recipe to get you started.

Ingredients.
4 cups of frozen strawberries,
¾ cup of milk,
½ cup low-fat Greek yogurt,
1 banana,
2 tablespoons of honey (optional),
7-9 ice cubes.


Simply add all of the ingredients into the blender, and blend until smooth. Make sure your blender can cope with ice first though! If it can’t, use unfrozen strawberries and leave out the ice, to be on the safe side.


Thanks to Helen Cunningham, a Dad Network follower and subscriber for sending us in these gorgeous recipes and writing the post for us. I know what the wife can expect for tea tonight; A macaroni taco with a smooth popsicle for pudding! 

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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Gorgeous Baby Shoe Giveaway worth £26


We've tried and tested some absolutely stunning baby shoes and we've been given a pair to give away!

Bobux is a company based in New Zealand but they sell all over the world. They produce stylish and comfy shoes for children from newborn. But hang on, I know what you're thinking; babies feet are very vulnerable and delicate and the best thing for them is go barefoot! Well, you're absolutely right and Bobux know this and advocate and promote it.


They also know however that going barefoot is not always practical. So, for those occasions where little shoes are necessary, they come into their own. They are designed so that whilst your baby might be wearing shoes, these still allow the feet to feel as though they are barefoot. Clever stuff hey! These really are the next best thing to barefoot.

We can vouch that the shoes are not just gorgeously designed, but also made well and from quality materials. We are certainly lining up all of the boys shoes to order from Bobux.

These are well worth buying, let alone trying to win! All you need to do is enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner can choose from the 'new-b' and 'soft sole' collections. For more information on Bobux you can click here and if you win - you'll need to choose your pair of shoes here too! (There's loads of fab info about sizing so you'll be able to choose the right pair!)





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Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Axiom #6


The Dad Network axioms are ‘dad-hood’ proverbs. They pinpoint key principles of dad-hood and refine them down to unforgettable soundbites of wisdom that can be called upon instantly to inform a critical decision. And, as we all know, being a dad is full of critical decisions! 

The tool belt

I’ve learnt the hard way; you cannot leave the house without a shed load of stuff. Stuff that I just wouldn’t ever think of taking, let alone actually being able to locate it and put it in the bag. Here’s my thought, every dad needs a tool belt. Tool belts are cool, they’re masculine and they're a damns sight better than carrying around your wife’s spotty, floral change bag! In any other situation, a man would never use his wife’s handbag, so why do we in this situation! Extraordinary. So, a tool belt, I think, is the way forward. 

And here’s my essential list of essentials: 

  • Spit rags
  • Snacks - possibly a bottle
  • Bib
  • Nappies / diapers
  • Wipes
  • Spare clothes - for you and the baby
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Plastic bag
  • Mobile phone (with mummy’s number on speed dial) 
  • A hazmat containment kit
  • A torch
  • Compass

In my head it looks like some sort of inspecter gadget, magic tool belt whereby all this stuff fits in. A bit like Batmans belt. That would be cool! 

Check out our other powerful parenting proverbs here or sign up to our mailing list to get them sent straight to you! 

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Pregnancy & Infant Loss - Remembrance Day 2014



Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day 2014. A day for remembering miscarriage and infant loss. A hard day for so many and a hard day for us at The Dad Network. Today we're remembering our miscarriage from 2013. It was this that sparked off the start of The Dad Network. We needed a place to share our feelings from the miscarriage experience but also provide a somewhere for dads to come and know that they're not the only ones to have experienced something like this. The Dad Network is a space for dads to talk, listen and support. 


Feel free to join our Private Facebook Group and get involved in sharing with other dads too. 


Click here to read the story of our miscarriage and below are some other links that might be of interest. 


Partners of miscarriage sufferers


Coping with Miscarriage for dads


True Intimacy in Secret Sadness


Remembrance Day

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Which Pushchair?



Aged 5 I learnt to ride my bike for the first time, on 2 wheels; a momentous occasion for anyone. At aged 8 I got my first proper bike. By 12 I’d added 2 more wheels to my 2 wheeled escapades, and purchased a skateboard. Aged 14 I upgraded my mountain bike and discovered rollerblades. By 16 I had a mountain board and when 17 hit…I passed my driving test and was let loose on the roads in a real car; from here my love for wheels continued via road bikes, 4X4, new cars and more mountain bikes. It’s clear that I like wheels and I'm sure that it’s down to the risk and speed of moving on wheels that appeal to my nature.

Now aged 26 I feel that my enjoyment from wheels has taken a new turn; pushchairs!

It’s no secret that men, and some women, procrastinate about pushchairs when they’re looking to purchase one, more than most other things. Why? Because they want to get it right. It’s not just a big financial commitment but it’s also a tool that is essential for daily use. The hours I spent mulling over the tiniest details could add up to at least an evening in the pub!

We've been testing out the Stokke Scoot; the smart urban stroller! Let’s start with the wheels, because, you know, I like wheels! These are brilliant wheels. They have excellent grip, they run smoothly and are loaded with run flat tyres – no pumping up and no emergency puncture repair kits necessary. The front wheels also lock into position for the Roman roads.

Out The Box:
The pushchair arrives in a remarkably small box for a pushchair which I guess is a sign of the compactness. This does increase slightly once the wheels are attached (at great ease) however. The instructions are idiot proof with 1 very clear image to 1 very large page; if you are confused by them, then I'm afraid you may need a visit to the doctor. Everything clips together satisfyingly with green safety spots to make sure you've done it properly. My only trouble was with a zip! A zip! I'm thinking it was just an ‘operator error.’

Folding:
Obviously, folding is one of the biggest issues with pushchairs. Is it easy to do? Well, yes. A button in the middle with a sliding safety fixing allows you to pretty much do this one handed…once the seat has been folded. It is straight forward and once you've done it a couple of times and made sure everything is tucked away, it’s a dream.

Design:
Come on… this is Stokke we’re talking about here! Of course this is designed to the highest quality with a near perfect finish. The wife saw it and fell in love with the soft silver chassis and soft, muted blue & grey fabric. There are other colour choices for those more adventurous but I must say that ALL the colour choices are more than appealing for a dad to be pushing round. They are neutral and popular resulting in a pushchair that made me feel very comfortable. (i.e. I wasn't pushing a pink pushchair or a spotty one or a garish lime or an aqua blue…)

The 2-way seat is a great bonus and, boy is it easy to remove and turn round to face forwards or backwards. Light with smooth mechanisms! The seat also has an adjustable reclining backrest cleverly integrated.

And don’t worry mums, the shopping basket is a helpful size!

I think that it’s hard to beat Stokke on design, especially when every aspect has been thought through meticulously so it just works. That’s all I want in life – things that work seemingly!

Extras:
It comes with a mosquito net! Amazing! The hood is large and the foot rest is adjustable to grow with your child. The fabrics are washable, but does anyone actually wash their pushchair fabric? Guess I should learn how the washing machine works...



Considerations:
I would class myself as vertically challenged at 5”8’ which means I can’t access the top shelves (probably a blessing in disguise), I can't change light bulbs very easily or get into the loft and putting my bike on the roof rack is rather trialling. So this daily struggle, combined with a pushchair that sits very high leaves me something to think about. It feels as though I'm pushing it with my ears. My personal preference is low, which I know is bad for my back so really, Stokke have created a pushchair that is far healthier and better for you to push. The handlebar doesn't have the usual sliding mechanism which may add to this illusion of a tall pushchair but it does mean that weight is reduced. Well done Stokke, keeping things simple again! 

They also pitch it as a stroller, which it is but it’s not as light as the others. It is brilliant for everyday life and will fit in the boot easily but I'm not sure you’d fancy taking it on the bus.

Babies should really be strapped in...!
Conclusion:
This stroller is smooth to push with good agility for getting around John Lewis…or wherever… It’s easy to fold, easy to adapt and easy to store with its small size when folded. Phenomenal design with ingenious mechanisms. Well done Stokke - you've done it again!

The Stokke Scoot receives an official Dad Network star rating of 5 / 5 and our award of recommendation.

We LOVE Stokke!





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