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Week away at Center Parcs…

Hi all, I’ll jump write in. The 8th of January is “the best day of the year” as it is Jordan’s birthday! However, unlike the rest of the world’s population, my better half’s birthday is adamant hers is actually a birthday-week… or so I’m told haha.

It is becoming a tradition since the arrival of our little man that we spend the week at Center Parcs, Sherwood. This would be our 3rd visit in as many years.

As always, we prebook Archie’s activities as well as our tables for dinner well in advance of us going there. This helps to save money and to make sure we get seated as it can be extremely busy as we learned from our first visit. The week’s itinerary for Archie consisted of; Balancer bikes, A toddler party, A teddy bears picnic, soccer play and a couple hours visit to the creche to give me and Jordan a rest. This list does not include the hours to be spent at the children’s discos, the soft play areas, meal times and the huge swimming pools and slides that Center Parcs holds. Needless to say, we knew it was gonna be a busy week for the little man.

After a 3PM check in on our first day, we headed straight to the Italian restaurant for dinner. To Archie’s amazement, there was a real vespa scooter just inside the door that you could sit on… we opted to sit Archie to wear he couldn’t see it during dinner haha. After eating body weight in pizza, spaghetti and a huge calzone, we headed for the sports bar where we knew there was a small soft play area for Archie to burn off some energy. He’s currently got this thing where he prefers playing with older children rather than toddlers, it was therefore hilarious watching him trying to fathom the rules of “Tig”.

The cabin/ villa we were staying in this year had two bedrooms. This was due to Archie being too big to sleep in a travel cot so now he had his own “big boy bed” in his own room. We were slightly worried due to the fact he hasn’t been sleeping too well recently but to our surprise we didn’t hear a peep from him all night… most nights ha!

Tuesday only consisted of the one activity for the day for Archie, and did we know about it!!! After a fry up made by Jordan in the villa, we headed to the sports hall where Archie would be taking part in the ‘Teach me balance bikes’ activity. We’ll just say he wasn’t too keen. To our embarrassment, he basically just screamed at the bike for an hour and despite the staff’s best efforts, the most he would do was to walk around the course with the bike and pretend to wash it with a sponge! (It looked a good little activity though for anyone else thinking of taking their toddlers haha).

Later that evening after a decent curry at the Indian restaurant we decided that we’d take Archie to the kiddie disco. Here, he was in his element as he was able to show his moves. Me and Jordan managed to find a table at the front of the dance floor to sit and let him get on with it… he didn’t want us to ruin his vibe anyway. Unlike a normal kiddie disco that lasts for about an hour or so, this one started at 6PM and finished at 9.30PM!!

Waking up with hangovers Wednesday morning, including Archie, we got ready to take Archie to another party. This time it was the ‘Toddler party hour’ activity in one of the sports hall rooms. It consisted of a few different musical games with prizes, of which, he won “musical bumps” and had the choice of sweets, chocolates or raisins – he almost went for the raisins and I swear to god I nearly disowned him… he had a pack of chocolate buttons in the end.

The little man was booked into the Creche on the Wednesday afternoon for a couple hours. For anyone planning on going to Center Parcs, the whole children’s area is extremely well set up and safe. During the two hours he was there, me and Jordan headed to the bar for a couple drinks not far away just incase we had a call saying he was upset. After half an hour we concluded that he was fine and we ended up heading back to the villa for a nap haha. In previous years, we used the time to book into the cave diving experience there which is also very good.

On the morning of our final full day we had our breakfast and got Archie ready for what we knew would be his favourite activity ‘soccer play’ in the morning followed by the ‘Teddy bear picnic lunch’ activity at midday. We arrived at the sports hall again, Archie this time donning his England Kit. The activity organiser had set up various small warm ups and drills with many cones. It was only gonna go well with a group of 2-4 year olds though surely?? … To our surprise it actually did.

Archie especially enjoyed the drills and you could see him really concentrating on what the staff member was explaining what to do. Eventually though, our fears came true and it did just turn to a free-for-all with all the children running around with their footballs. Archie has now got to the point where he is that fast at running that you actually have to run yourself to catch him, dammit!

After soccer play, we headed back to the villa to get Archie changed for the teddy bear picnic and to of course pick up ‘Mr Bunny’ to take along with us – “rabbit” really does come everywhere with us haha. It just so happened that the organiser for this activity was the same woman who helped Archie a couple days before with the balance bikes, she immediately recognised him and gave him a big fuss, which was nice. Each of the children received a small Centre Parcs teddy and eventually also got a small lunch box with jam sandwiches, crisps, juice and raisins inside that they had to collect from ‘Bramble’ the bear.

Before all of that though, they all had to find him by going on a bear hunt which is one of Archie’s favourite stories so he got really involved with the rhymes and actions. Bramble was eventually found hiding in a bear cave which looked very similar to a broom cupboard!? I can only imagine how long he had to sit there before we found him hahaha.

All in all it was yet another fantastic week at Center Parcs and I’ve not even really touched the surface with all that happened. From seeing squirrels everywhere to going swimming on our last day. Recommend it to anybody, but remember to book mealtimes and activities before you go!

Thanks for reading!

Tom, Jordan & Archie x

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The technique on the boy is amazing! Definitely didn’t get that from me haha.
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Family photo before dinner.
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We’re back! Merry Christmas!

First of all, many apologies for the lack of well, anything from me on here for a good few months. We have all been insanely busy with new jobs, family issues, our own wedding planning and then having to look after Archie bear… and Freddy-dog haha. Means a lot though to have many people getting on my case to sort myself out!

The last post months ago was supposed to be the first in a series about how to cope with going to weddings with toddlers (from our own experiences with Archie). As it was so long ago, I’ve decided to cancel the series. For not wanting to leave all of you readers without any advice however, here it is… In short; drink lots and always have close friends and family at hand to help out and share the load. Fortunately for us however, Archie loves a boogie and was usually found on the dance floor.

Anyway, its now coming towards the end of that strange week between Christmas and New Years eve and the dust is starting to settle on Archie’s 3rd visit from Santa. The decorations are back in the attic already and me and Jordan are sat trying to decipher exactly where all of Archie’s new toys are going to live for the foreseeable future.

The big day started with us waking around 8am and finding the little man in bed with us. -Unfortunately, Archie is currently going through a little phase where its almost impossible for us to get him to firstly fall asleep in his bed and then to stay in it. We’ve been told on numerous occasions that you have to be firm and let him “cry it out”, maybe me and Jordan are too soft. The time eventually got to 8:30 when our excitement to see if Santa had been had got too much and we decided enough was enough and we was going to wake Archie bear up ourselves! I suppose we should enjoy the Christmas morning lie ins as me and Jordan have both heard stories of us waking around 3am in our younger days!

The three of us sat up in bed and began to rummage through our Christmas stockings. Jordan had spray tan, I had an Armani spray and Archie bear had 3 toy dragons which he was delighted with!

The trouble with having a stereotypical little boy around Christmas is he is now starting to get COOL toys for me to play/ test with. For instance, this year Archie was treated to a gigantic ‘Hot Wheels’ garage by Santa Claus along with 30+ cars to go with it. Sure enough, I was too busy playing early on Christmas Day to do much else haha. I think next year it may be time for Archie to have a sca-electric set??

The rest of the morning was a wrapping paper shaped blur as the little man tore into his new gifts. The BIG Christmas dinner at the in laws awaited followed by more presents. me and Jordan are still not sure if it was supposed to be some sort of sick joke but they decided to buy him a drum kit… we decided that it was a “Grandma’s house toy”.

Once home Jordan began to get ready for the nightshift at the hospital (she is now an intensive care staff nurse). My hat goes off to all NHS/ emergency workers around the festive period as it must be hard. She then went on to explain that all the doctors were putting money in to buy a large feast for everyone on shift, so I wasn’t as sympathetic haha. I comforted Jordan with the fact that she wouldn’t be missing out on anything apart from; an early night for Archie and me playing with all of his toys.

Thanks for reading everyone! Apologies once again for the lack of anything for months.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Years!

Love Tom, Jordan, Archie and Freddy-dog.

 

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Hot wheels garage!!!!
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Rocking out!

MORE weddings and a toddler (part 1)…

The next few posts will be a series going over the weddings me, Jordan and Archie had been to this year. Each day was beautiful. Each was utterly exhausting. Any parents out there will know what I’m talking about.

Unlike the hit romantic comedy film of the 90’s starring a fresh faced Hugh Grant and the over-the-top thespian Simon Callow, our series of MANY weddings involved a very excitable toddler.

From the end of last year the invites started flooding in. Although thrilled and happy to be invited to spend all of these special days with our close friends and family, the fear of having to get through the whole day with Archie was real.

The first wedding of the year was the coming together of my good friend Steve and his bride Lisa. I was chuffed to bits to also be asked to be his best man. The big day was back in March. The night before the wedding, I had to commit to my best man duties and stay with Steve calming his nerves… and lavish in a beautiful Italian meal with his family.

Jordan on the other hand had to contend with getting Archie bathed and into bed followed by the rush of getting both herself and the little man wedding ready. I was so upset I couldn’t help when the Ferrari arrived in the morning to take me and Steve to the beautiful venue in Nottinghamshire. To my amazement however, on our arrival in the flash car, Jordan and Archie were there waiting there for us!

For the next hour, I went into full best man mode and greeted people on their arrival. For some reason though, I was much more nervous than Steve who seemed completely chilled. Maybe it was due to the fact that I was also having to be in best dad mode chasing Archie around the grand old building making sure he didn’t knock any expensive looking ornaments over.

The big moment was upon us all and we made our way into the ceremony room prior to the arrival of the main lady. The room was decorated brilliantly with so many beautiful flowers and full credit has to go to Steve! I didn’t realise he had an eye for that sort of thing… maybe Lisa helped a little thinking about it haha.

We had now been at the venue for around an hour and half. It was becoming evident that Archie was due a nap. He did have his own seat but I turned from where I was standing at the front to see Jordan wrestling him and holding a toddler shaped rugby ball. The alarm bells started ringing.

Onto the arrival of the bride and the best ever groom reaction… EVER! The music began and in came the bridesmaids. I could see Steve having a mental battle within himself to hold back the emotions. Eventually he got a first look at his bride and broke down, the moment was amazing and there really wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Meanwhile, the scrum between Jordan and Archie continued.

After the ceremony and during the pictures, we checked into our room for the night and tried to get Archie down for a nap. I was then somehow roped into helping the photographer with the lighting equipment for the intimate photos of the bride and groom. Pretty sure I didn’t ruin the moment for them with my awkward timed jokes haha. I also unfortunately missed out on the free bar during these antics, so somebody owes me a beer.

I went back to the room to get Jordan and Archie to come down for the dinner service. Archie had his own special meal and treats, which was a nice touch.

It was now time for the main event of the day, my speech. It was abit of a blur to me, but I was told by my better half that I “was full of it“. The speech went on for around 20 minutes and ended to thunderous applause. The gags I put in seemed to go down very well. Phew.

Once the disco started up Archie was pretty much sorted, a theme that will become very apparent over this series of posts. He was the first on the dance floor and pretty much one of the last people off it.

To conclude, the first few tips of this series for getting through a wedding with a toddler are;

  • Have a room booked at the venue.
  • Have an endless supply of fruit/ yoghurt pouches.
  • “Tag” your better halves in at appropriate intervals.
  • Push the newlyweds to get the disco started ASAP!

Thanks for reading everyone. The next post in this series will be completed soon!

Much love. Tom, Jordan and Archie xx

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The three of us before the ceremony.
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Behaving during intimate photos.
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The newlyweds x

Archie’s 2nd birthday…

Cliche as it sounds, where did that time go? Archie’s 2nd birthday was upon us already and he had one hell of a week planned.

Being only a couple days after the Father’s Day trip to Skegness, we had momentum and the little man’s birthday came just a couple of days after on the 22nd. As he is a proper little LAD now, he is fairly easy to buy presents for. This years hotlist was cars, dinosaurs or anything ‘Paw Patrol’. I’m getting excited now as it can only be a matter of time before I can get my old lego out to play with.

The excitement of his big day had clearly got the better of Jordan as she was first awake in the morning and rushed to get the birthday boy up and ready to go and open presents! As all parents will know, the evening before a birthday is spent building up toys and setting up presents ready for when the little ones wake up. Christmas Eve is of course spent cleaning ready for Santa to arrive 😉

“Daddy’s To-Do list” included building Archie’s; dinosaur teepee, Paw Patrol scooter, a crazy coupe and countless dinosaurs and toy cars. As head photographer, it was Jordan’s job to oversee and tell me how I was presenting it all wrong haha.

We decided after opening the presents and having breakfast that we would take Archie to CBeebies Land at Alton Towers theme park. Luckily, on our fridge, we had amassed a large collection of 2-4-1 vouchers to various attractions across the UK.

Upon arrival, we were shocked to find the park was half empty. Which slightly annoyed us as whenever me and Jordan have been in the past it was heaving, but as it was the little man’s day we were more than happy to instead head for the small queue of the Postman Pat parcel post ride.

We were pleasantly surprised at how good CBeebies land really is for little ones. As well as the small rides such as Postman Pat’s parcel post, the in the night garden magical boat ride and the get set go treetop ride, there was also plenty of live shows to watch and take part in. This even included a dedicated area for some shows with characters of CBeebies. A personal highlight for me was the ‘Furchester hotel live show’, which is basically a spin off show of Sesame St. – WOW only two years as a parent and I totally understood all of that, apologies to anyone who didn’t.

The day after his party was spent playing with all of Archie’s toys as well as preparation for BOTH of his parties for the following day (Saturday). A few months ago me and Jordan had the bright idea that we would host two parties for the little man. The plan was to have one party at the local soft play for all of his little friends followed by an open house/ BBQ type party at our house for family and friends. A good idea but in theory, but in practicality, we were arranging two parties in one day… never again.

The hour in the soft play area was spent chasing Archie through small tunnels and throwing him into the ball pit. I think its fair to say I was done after about 20 minutes. Jordan however, refused to “tag me” out of it as she was mingling with the other parents. The party room for food afterwards was decorated in a ‘Paw Patrol’ theme. The pups were literally everywhere, the table covers, the plates, the napkins, the balloons, the cups, his birthday cakes and even the wrapping paper for the pass the parcel prizes.

While I’m on the subject of pass the parcel, Jordan took it upon herself to prepare the prizes and wrap them for the children. I think Archie’s party may hold the record for “World’s fastest game of pass the parcel!”. Jordan bless her only wrapped the prizes up once haha! Fortunately for us, most the children were under 3 years old and were pretty much unaware of what was going on anyway. I will never let her forget it.

After his first party, we rushed home to prepare for his 2nd one. Who else knew that 2nd birthday parties were so boozy? There was enough wine, beer and cider to serve a Stag party rather than a 2 year old’s… It was all consumed anyway for good measure.

Hosting two parties does have its benefits, at least of course for Archie as he yielded twice as many piles of presents! Where me and Jordan were going to put all of his gifts was anyones guess! Freddy dog also enjoyed the party as I’m pretty sure he’s never eaten as much BBQ food in his life haha.

When it was all over, its safe to say that for the next two days me, Jordan, Archie and Freddy dog were all beaten and basically spent the rest of the weekend lounging around eating and drinking left overs.

Thanks for reading everyone! We’ve been very busy over the last few weeks as we’ve had to deal with Archie’s big day as well as 3 weddings in the same time period so thanks for being patient.

Much love x

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Archie enjoying his party food.

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Jordan enjoying CBeebies land a little too much.

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Archie meeting Ubercorn from Go Jetters.

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Being the centre of attention as per usual.

A Father’s Day weekend…

Sorry for the long wait for a post. We’ve all been very busy even by our own standards. Anyway, on to it.

A heatwave was upon us and it seemed that the summer had finally arrived. This year’s Father’s Day was apparently the hottest ever on record, so of course the Archie had lots planned to make it special for me.

Friday evening after work consisted of a failed trip to the barbers – too busy – followed by a failed trip to currys for an Amazon Echo. I had recently decided that I wanted to indulge and the only way I could justify spending that sort of money, was that it was Archie’s birthday party next weekend and we needed speakers. I believed it anyway. Corners would be cut haha.

By the time Jordan was home we made a collective decision as parents that it’d be best if we went out to eat to save on cooking. For Archie’s sake of course. We later found ourselves at the local ‘Harvester’ restaurant. A new favourite of ours due to the child friendly atmosphere and the free “all-you-can-eat” salad bar which Archie loves.

Our usual Saturday morning, planned with extras. Firstly, swimming lessons for the boy early in the morning. Archie had missed the previous week’s lesson due to being a member of “the 3AM club” in the VERY early hours of that Saturday. This week, he was much kinder and woke at 7. We had arranged for Grandad Keith (My dad) to come and watch the boy at his swimming lesson. Little to his knowledge however but the first of the weekend’s father’s day activities would be taking place afterwards.

We had decided to take full advantage of our local zoo’s weekend offer of “DADS GO FREE!”. So off we went to Twycross straight from swimming allowing our little water baby to get some sleep in the car… providing his grandad would leave him alone haha.

On arrival, we were surprised by that the zoo wasn’t as rammed with people as what we first feared. My dad has stated for a long time now that he wanted to take Archie to the zoo, this was his opportunity to take the lead. We saw the giraffes, elephants, the chimpanzees (where we saw a full blown fight on the other side of the glass), the Meerkats, zebras, gibbons, kangaroos and finally the spider monkeys. It was in the final exhibit where Archie spotted the baby spider monkey before anyone else. His little face was a sight.

After the zoo, we headed home and then went to Jordan’s parents for a famous ‘Budworth BBQ’. It was an extremely hot day and I had acquired a beautiful, classic, two-tone tan from the afternoon at the zoo much to the joy of the in laws (DISCLAIMER Me and Jordan aren’t married just yet!).

Sunday morning, Father’s Day, seen one of our rare productive mornings occur. After opening my presents off Archie (A lovely hand made card he did at nursery, Star Wars socks and a couple of DVDs I was outrageously hinting at for weeks prior). We all had breakfast, walked Freddy, watered the flowers and cleaned up all before 9. This therefore meant only one thing… A TRIP TO THE SEASIDE!

Two and a half hours into the “about an hour” drive we arrived in Skegness. After another 20mins worth of ‘car park wars’ we were there. Deciding firstly on heading straight to the beach we made our way and found a lovely little spot under the pier for the shade. En route, Archie surprisingly refused to get on a donkey which put me and Jordan back. Under the pier the three of us were well underway with making our outstanding sand castles. Followed swiftly by jumping waves and paddling in the sea. Being the little swimmer baby he is, Archie wanted to dive in and go for it.

After a couple hours at the beach, the stereotypical British seaside fish and chips were soon exhumed and then a couple of drinks in a beach front pub. The three of us then had a slow walk through the fair ground having a go on some of the games, Archie won a car on the ‘hook a duck’ and I made a fool of myself by not even finishing on the podium on the ‘Arabian derby’ race game.

Finishing our wonderful day at the seaside with a walk along the pier and a pack of 4 freshly cooked doughnuts, we made our way home around 6pm. A full day to say the least. We eventually made it home and un-surprisingly all got straight into bed.

– I eventually got the echo on the Monday evening haha.

Thanks all for reading everyone. It won’t be such a wait for the next blog as its the boys 2nd birthday in the week with his party on the Saturday, I’m sure it’ll be eventful.

Much love x

 

 

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Archie having fun building sandcastles.
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With his Grandad looking at the giraffes.