Thursday, 28 September 2017

The Holiday #2

Here we go again! It's been some time since I wrote but hey, I've been busy, it happens!

Here we are on the second Clarke family holiday, the first one was when Willow was only 9 weeks old, wow that seems like a lifetime ago, now she's 9 MONTHS old! Where has that gone?!

This time we have travelled roughly 400 miles over 9 hours to a quaint little bay in Hayle, Cornwall. What a lovely place it is! What's pretty cool is, I came here with my family when I was much much younger, so to come back to the exact spot with our own family now has been something I've really enjoyed. I've remembered little places and features that I had never really thought about before, I guess it's just being back in the place, the memories are coming back to me.

This time around Willow is a totally different child. When we went away when she was 9 weeks old, the only thing she could really do was lay there and take it all in. Now she's crawling, talking, laughing and generally being a much older baby, this time it's been much more special and memorable. Not to mention, we actually sleep more at night than we did all those months ago, not as much as the average person might sleep but it's good enough!

We've been to the local beach, the classic town St. Ives, the holiday park pool and arcade and even a farm to pick vegetables (Willow slept through that one, enjoyed the meal we made from them though!) And we're only now entering day 5, because Willow slept through all night last night for the first time in weeks, of course I naturally woke up at 4 am and found some tie to myself to ramble on here!

One thing we really enjoy about these little holidays is the escape feeling you get. Moving into a new home last month and now being introduced to a crawling baby to keep more of an eye on (she's unstoppable and getting into EVERYTHING!) mixed with the constant work stresses and busy nature of life itself. Things started to get a little overwhelming for us so a little break away from the real world was right on the menu for us. Sometimes you just need that refresh to go back with a clear mind and a new mindset. So that's what we're achieving down here, no thinking about this bill or that alarm to wake up for work, just a week of being a family and enjoying every last minute of it.

Despite the weather a little on the wet side while we've been down here, we've made it our own. With the couple of days we've enjoyed sunshine, we make the most of the outside, when it rains, enjoy the inside. Pretty simple!

Now as I prepare for another day to make memories, I'll sign off for now. I'm starting to get used to this relaxed life, if only I could do it full time!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Day Off


Who'd have thought a single tooth could cause so much chaos in the world of a baby? Certainly not me, I feel like I was seriously unprepared for the first tooth saga.

I can honestly count on one hand the hours of sleep I've gotten since Monday (4 days ago) and that's without using all the fingers. Poor Willow has been teething for just over a month now and wow, this week was by far the most intense! Don't get me wrong, she is still our lovely and wonderful little baby and the moments during the day where she smiles, laughs and pretty much just lays there being her drooly self, make up for the stirring and grunting creature we get exposed to at night.

Up until this point it's all pretty much been pretty tame and sunshine-y daisy in terms of the things I write about, because those precious first moments are supposed to be exactly that. The smiles, the pictures, all the lovely leaflets and written books about this special growing and developing experience with your new baby. If I collect a good amount of the material that I've read and learned in parenting classes that relate to every day parenting, I'd be quite tempted to wrap most of it up in red tape, put in in a box and label it, Box of Lies (do not open) and send it down a riverboat burning like Viking royalty. But that's a bit much isn't it?

I feel like you only get prepared so far in terms of what to expect when you have the baby. Anything from the first night home to the first time the baby gets sick, the first tooth and more. But it's also really cryptic information.

Here's the NHS symptoms for teething:
  • your baby's gum is sore and red where the tooth is coming through
  • one cheek is flushed
  • your baby is dribbling more than usual
  • they are gnawing and chewing on things a lot
  • they are more fretful than usual
And here's a real life update on those terms:
  • Your Baby's gums will probably be sore and red, but they will be too busy gnawing your knuckle off and flicking their tongue for you to get a good look in.
  • Both cheeks will be red like they've just been squeezed by Auntie Wendy for 3 hours, but not quite red enough to alarm you.
  • Dribble? Nah, your baby will be soaking through bibs like the 'cheap brand' kitchen towel in the TV adverts, go buy a hundred bibs, that'll do for a day or two. Oh and their hands, your hands and every toy will be dripping.
  • Gnawing and chewing constantly is pretty accurate, I'll give them that!
  • More fretful than usual? Haha, basically, Willow was a lovely baby who slept quite well and smiled at just about everything. While teething she pretty much had the battle cry of 1000 Spartans going into battle and play time becomes rarer than seeing Halley's comet.
  • What the NHS kindly leaves off this list is possibly the most noticeable of all. The poop. Oh you think the poonami of month two was bad. The teething poops are what separates the adults from the kids. These are what Bane was talking about when he told Batman he was moulded in the darkness, they happen at night and they are life changing, onesie destroying, armpit staining and bath inducing parcels of, shit.
  • Side note - maybe invest in some nice clothes that aren't white for this period of time (See above)

But on the plus side, Willow's first tooth came in today, as if by magic, all that aggro is officially over. I can return to work after 2 long days off of pure sleep deprivation and the hoping to relieve a bit of stress from poor Jodie who doesn't get an 8 hour break from this part during the day. That is, until next time, because you see...there's 19 more teeth to come. Shit.

Here's to all of you parents who are going through it now, been through it all or are even halfway through. As for the parents yet to discover the magic teeth ritual of the baby human, get yourself ready. Get bibs, teething crystals, teething toys (Willow hates them) and plenty of sleep. You'll need it.

1 tooth down, 19 to go.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Back In Action!

Here we are sitting a day over the 19 week milestone with Willow. (I'm starting to wonder when we can stop counting the weeks and just say oh shes 4 and a half months! It's actually quite humorous trying to watch people work out the months by the number of weeks we come out with.)

Now it's been a pretty long time since I last wrote a piece, 11 weeks in fact, looking back at that 2 month mark like it was a subject in history class. Only this time, I was actually paying attention!

So much has happened in that time, too much to write in one post, so here's a recap:

Willow has gained to an impressive 16lb 4oz in weight! (Over double the birth weight, and wow are my arms feeling it)

We've had our first family holiday, first beach trip, first time swimming, first giggle (she's been laughing ever since) and almost a first tooth!

We've watched just about every episode of PJ Masks, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Miles from Tomorrow, theme tunes forever on repeat in my head. Willow loves the shapes and colours so it's all good! For the record, I've also personally watched Moana around 25 times, and not always when Willow was awake, but there's no complaints on that one either.

Without creating a huge list, we have basically spent the last couple of months taking in every morsel of our daughters life and cherishing out lives as parents, that mixed with a full time job and the need to still savour every moment of sleep has left me with not much time to really sit down and do this blog some justice, Now I feel we are becoming much more managed and organised, recently beginning a new routine for Willow which is working pretty well and getting more and more used to the whole life as parents.

So I'm ready to give it all another shot, I started this all to document my daughter's life and have something precious to look back on when it all seems to have gone so fast, so I'm going to document the *insert current nappy contents here* out of it, for her and for us as a family. These are the most amazing times to experience, and what an amazing experience it still is.

I recently got asked to guest post over at, which is a fantastic website for dads, new dads and dads to be, so I highly recommend a little brows through more of the material over there! I chose to write on the topic of "Fast Forward", it's all about how quickly the time goes when you become a parent, I feel it's even more relevant to this post! Anyway, that's all from me today, the sun is out and we're off for some shopping before my last shift of the week!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Week 8!

So we're just over the 8 week mark, as of Wednesday, Willow will be a 2 month old, how crazy!

This week has been one of my favourite weeks as a new Dad. We've finally had our 6-8 week checks for Willow and Jodie and they are both doing fantastic! So much development this week! My little baby is growing up.

We have a now 11lb 4oz baby up from the 7lb 12oz at birth! And wow, let me tell you, our arms are feeling the difference! She's grown an incredible amount in length, over 4 inches, and is finally filling out in her clothes and not looking so dainty and fragile! I'm not freaking out so much holding her any more, not so worried that she'll somehow break if I move a muscle!

I spoke to Jodie last week about getting some 'me' time for herself this week. She's been the 24/7 parent since the birth and although she's doing the most amazing job, she definitely deserved a break. Instead of being focused purely on the basic survival and life of our new baby, she needed some time to catch up with friends and be in her own head for a bit. Plus, I've yet to experience one on one time with Willow so I was excited to take it on and bond with her a little more and have some Daddy-Daughter time.

We had a couple hours on Thursday night while Jodie went for a meal and Willow slept the majority of the time, waking for a little bit of play time and a feed and that was that. The time went quickly and I definitely remained confident I was good at this. The next day I booked a half day at work so Jodie could have her hair done for the first time since the birth and be pampered a bit at the salon, I took Willow for a Daddy date at Costa for some coffee and cuddles. Driving in the car alone with her for the first time had me nervous, we've always had one of us in the back seat! But I had a baby mirror so I could watch her like a hawk while I drove (awesome investment!) She actually stared back at me the entire time! 

This week was the first time I've looked back on old pictures to compare her from when she was still so new to this world. What an incredible change already! We have so many facial expressions to admire, plenty of smiles and Willow is constantly communicating with us. To start with she would make the odd noise or 'coo' when she got excited, now whenever we say Hiii (high pitch baby voice of course, I may sound like a wally but it's cute alright?) she gets so giddy and makes noises right back, anything ranging from ooOOoo to Ahhheeww and my favourite, the very close sounding "Hiiiiiiiaaa".

I'm truly obsessed by my daughter. every noise, expression and every sleeping snore astounds me in the biggest way. I'm proud of her for so many things as she develops into such a beautiful little girl. I'm also so proud of Jodie, she's the best team mate I could ever ask for in being parents. Even though she's learning just as much as I am in this whole journey, she's taking to it all so naturally and fills me with confidence that we're going to have an amazing adventure as new parents.

Something I'm looking forward to entering week 9 is our first family holiday! We're taking a trip up to Sherwood Forest in Nottingham on Thursday. I've never visited a Centreparcs retreat (surprisingly we actually live about 10 miles away from Elveden Forest and have never been) so I'm really excited to experience it all and take in all the natural scenery and stay in one of their awesome lodges. Who knows, we may even pay homage to Robin Hood himself and dress Willow up for the occasion while we visit the famous forest.

This week will of course bring more amazing memories and experiences, and more blogs from me as I have plenty of time off this week to catch up and get our memorable moments so far documented to save them forever, The only hard part of the week will be tomorrow when she has her first round of vaccinations! Although every injection so far has been simply ignored while she stares at the lighs on the ceiling without a care in the world. Lets hope she gets through these ones with the same gusto and we continue to have the happy baby we've become so used to this week.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

7 (and a bit) weeks!

So this week Willow turned 7 weeks old!

I'm a couple days late with this one but it counts!

Now, as a new parents, it seems like any week 'milestone' is celebrated like it's the best thing ever. I think it's not only a celebration of her getting older but a high five to ourselves as parents for making it another week!

Willow really isn't much trouble. At 7 weeks, she's been sleeping most of the night, waking once for food and going straight back to sleep (we count ourselves as lucky for this!), she's got a good routine going with food too. Usually feeding every 4 hours, which gives us plenty of time to prepare her food so we don't get that hungry crying baby! Not every time anyway. We also have a baby who enjoys bath time (starting to splash!), doesn't mind being changed, whether it be a nappy or clothes. Especially those poos, after a poo she stares at you, almost in amazement that you are actually going down there and braving the mess.

In the development side of things, I've been pretty slack this week on reading stories to her (feeling like a terrible Dad already), which I'll make up for in the next few days, but she loves the sound of our voices still and is constantly smiling and coo-ing back at us when we speak! Also, her neck is getting stronger by the day, Willow has to be upright at all times now, she hates being laid down! Holding her up on our chests, she's holding her own head up and looking around all the time, not so much of the random drunk baby head bobbing we have had to deal with so far. Then there's tummy time, we've started her on a few basics to get her used to it all, Willow loves getting on her front and having a good look around, I can't wait to see her start playing with toys and more textures as she gets more used to those hands of hers.

On the most part, week 7 hasn't brought us many firsts, the week sort of flew by and we made it! But as parents, me and Jodie are becoming more and more confident in ourselves and each other. Even walking around the local shops I feel confident and proud to be a Dad and Jodie is doing an incredible job as Mum!

With week 8 now in progress we have a few big plans. There's a couple of photo shoot ideas to be done (depending on little ones mood that day) we're getting the play mats out for some tummy time upgrades too. I'll be reading a story every day to her when I finish work, that's the plan anyway.

Parenting is still a whole new ball game to us, even at 7 weeks in. It still feels like a big adjustment in every aspect, from sleep patterns to just popping out to the shops, it's all totally changed and we're slowly getting there. Willow is most definitely keeping us on our toes and teaching us new parental skills every day. But I wouldn't ever change it, not even for a minute

Week 8, I'm ready for you and expecting big things!


Tuesday, 7 February 2017


So here we are, a week into February already!

This month there's a couple of pretty important dates I need to get organised for. Especially now we have a baby, she has to be able to take part too!

Valentines Day

Valentines day is a day to express love, appreciation and be more romantic than usual. Actually, me and Jodie aren't huge over-the-top valentines advocates, but we do make the normal effort with cards, little gifts and maybe a nice meal. We tend to reserve the big romantic stuff for the anniversary, I guess it just feels more significant.
But this year the game has been changed. I have a daughter.

This is a perfect opportunity to teach Willow about love, obviously she's WAY too young to understand. But what I mean is, I think it's important for her to grow up seeing what a stable and happy relationship looks like. Me and Jodie are as solid as solid can be. Both coming from families where the parents went separate ways, it definitely had an effect. But it's made us appreciate things more, and not take a relationship or family for granted. Pushing us both to strive for a happier and more positive future. If Willow can grow up watching the two of us be happily married and adore each other, perhaps she will look for something similar herself and not settle with the wrong person and be unhappy in her life.
There's an old quote kicking around by John Wooden "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." And I think that is really important.

So now the question is, what do we do for Willow on Valentines day? I want her to be a huge Daddy's girl so I think I'll treat her to some sentimental gifts and a card every year. I mostly want her to have that day where she can feel appreciated and loved as well as her mother! I'm definitely outnumbered now with two ladies in the house so whatever we decide to do, I'll have to make it super soppy and sweet, I'm an avid collector of brownie points.

Next comes the next big day. My Wife's 25th birthday! Now the birthday is just another day to some but this one is different. It's the first year Jodie will get a present from her baby! Willow has to get her a gift! Now of course, being just shy of 7 weeks old, her gift selection skills haven't quite reached their full potential. The only "gift" she can give so far is a little on the smelly side.

This year I'm going to have a look down the personalised route for gifts, I've never really dabbled too far in the personalised things but for the first gift to Jodie from Willow, I think it needs that extra touch. SO I'm open to ideas!

As for my gift to her, she pretty much likes anything Disney related, I tend to get her something collectable each year, something she can wear (I like to think I'm somewhat of a fashionista) and a few other sentimental things. But I'm still a little stumped this year. What do I give the woman who has given me the most amazing gift? (I still owe her the "push present" which I'm working on as well!)

So I think a Daddy/Daughter shopping day is in order soon, I feel somewhat nervous about having her on my own for the first time, Jodie has never left her sight so I think she deserves a bit of a break to catch up with herself as well. I'm actually looking forward to the idea of having her on my own soon, there's a certain level of confidence I think it'll bring like "yeah I'm doing this and look how amazing my baby is". But we haven't even gone for a trip in the car yet without having one of us in the back seat watching her like a hawk!

Needless to say this month will bring a few special moments to our family, and plenty of firsts. We are finding our confidence day by day and Willow appears to like us quite a bit (success!) so I can't wait to make little memories and start the first year of family traditions. I want to hear from a few readers, what do you do for these days with your children and partners? Any tips, amazing gift ideas and traditions, feel free to share!

Find me on Instagram @Astoryfromdad and Twitter @Astoryfromdad Soon to be Facebook!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

6 weeks in!

Here we are, the 6 week old mark!

Today I thought I'd write a little about the first 6 weeks, of course I've already somewhat covered the first month, well, what I remembered of it as a sleep deprived Zomb-Dad so I will try not to repeat myself too much! Here are some of my highs and lows of the last 6 weeks!

I'll kick it off with one of my favourite moments, not just in the last week but one of those all time life moments that I'll always remember. There's no words to describe the feeling when I saw this face light up with a huge smile today :

I mean Willow has done little smirks from time to time and of course the 'windy smiles' which usually mean a funny smell and gooey mess to follow, but nothing like this. This is a smile, a HUGE smile and it made me feel like the luckiest guy in the world having her look right at me and be this happy. I guess me and Jodie are doing good in her eyes!

I also had a not so great moment in the last couple of weeks. I actually got pretty down the other day. Going from the first month where I was able to be here with the two girls all day. I then went back to work. 40 hours a week I spend away from my little girl and wife. I mean I should be used to it, I've worked since I was a teenager and it's the daily grind! But I honestly started to feel less like Dad. It's far too easy to feel like your losing touch I think, as a working parent I do feel like I miss out on parenting and special bonding time while I'm away, and I felt so out of touch with the whole thing only after 3 weeks back at work. But I talked to Jodie about it, she gave me the ego boost I needed, I needed to be more positive and confident, Willow would react accordingly and guess what? I won't say this too loud but, she was right! She's been an amazing Mum and Wife to me and Willow, she knows wayyyy more than I do and I'm thankful and lucky to have her as my partner in this whole adventure. (Collecting more brownie points)

Back to a positive! 

Our girl is showing off her strength! From the day she was born she's had a pretty strong neck, especially when she wants to do that tired crying thing that makes me wonder how difficult baby life must be. You know being fed, changed and sleeping all the time, terrible right?
But this week we decided to introduce some tummy time with her, she's had the odd few moments before now but we didn't want to force her to develop before she was ready. Judging by this picture Jodie sent me at work, I think she's ready!

Another thing we've discovered, Willow has a huge appetite. We've had to go and buy some more bottles that were bigger than the little newborn ones we got, Willow made the move up to a 6oz feed this week and the small bottles couldn't keep up! I think Jodie was happy, we finally got to go and buy a load of pink bottles to replace the neutral colours we had when Willow was still a surprise baby gender. We are sticking with the Anti-Colic MAM bottles for now, they seem good for her and have a self sterilising feature which I've only just discovered after 6 weeks, bonus!

That's it for now as my little girl is about to wake up for her next feed, I think I'll have to start posting here daily just to keep a good record of everything that's happening. People always say things happen so quickly and they really do, so much happens in such a short space of time, it's easy to forget where we were a few weeks ago. I still love being a Dad, there's nothing better than having a new family and experiencing parenthood for the first time. So keep up, I'll try to do the same!

A Story From Dad