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Benji's Blog!

Welcome to our blog! This is where we like to keep everyone up to date with the latest news, tips on how to have lots of fun with the kids, and share little tricks for creating more time to spend together. Come in and enjoy, we'd love to hear any of your comments as well so don't be shy!!

Friday, 9 November 2012

It's 4-in-a-row for Adam!


Me, RTE's John Murray & my good friend Sinead Moriarty
Sorry I missed my blog post last week, I was away in London at the Spirit of Christmas Fair in the Olympia for 6 long days.

A week away from Jackie and the kids, especially over Halloween, left me feeling a little gutted & home sick but there was also an overpowering sense of being on a relaxing holiday away from the hyper kids, so overall it wasn't that bad.

In case you have been off-line and missed all the posts on Facebook and Twitter, I thought I'd let you know that Adam’s Greatest Inventions is up for this year’s Book of the Year Award which is great as it is the 4th year in a row! 


No really, it's just a furry microphone!
I felt like Jedward on the day of the launch with all the cameras and journalists around. I managed to get talking to my very good friend Sinead Moriarty as well as Robbie’s 'girlfriend', Celia Ahern, Paul Howard, (AKA Ross O’Carroll Kelly), Derek Lady of Skulduggery fame, and the 'love him or hate him' Senator David Norris. 

We’re up against some stiff competition with some lovely books so we don’t expect to win but always hopeful. I am however ecstatic at the prospect of bumping into Katie Taylor on the night of the awards, she is amazing. 


If you would like to vote for Adam's Greatest Inventions, then you can do so at this link, http://www.irishbookawards.ie/vote-here-for-your-favourite-titles/



I was lucky enough to have been asked to do an interview on the day which was great, you can see the results on the right.

I'm off on my travels to London next to a show in Earls Court, so hopefully there'll be lots of books, (as well as hugs and kisses), on their way to homes in London.

Till next week,  
Benji.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Say Hello to Molly Dolly!

Little Molly in my latest book!

Today marks a magical moment for Adams Cloud as today we're launching a brand new product, it's called the 'Molly Dolly'. So this week I thought I would tell you all about how the Molly Dolly came about.

Molly & Dolly in their pyjamas
As you may know we have a little Molly in our house. She is great fun and goes on all Adam’s Adventures with Robbie and Harry. You may notice in each of the books that Molly has a dolly with her and every time I read the stories to the kids at bed time we play a game to spot Molly’s dolly.
Molly wearing the 'Play' dress












I often thought the idea of a doll would be great and one day, as fate would have it, I was at a show in Donegal and met a woman who designed a beautiful Rag Doll with matching clothes for the doll & the little girls. I was immediately drawn to them and I bought my daughter, Molly, the full set of clothes & the doll. When I gave Molly the doll & clothes her reaction was amazing. That was the day we christened the doll Molly’s Dolly and now Molly and her dolly go everywhere together dressed in matching outfits, including at bedtime.

'Sporty' Molly
Excited by Molly’s reaction to her new doll I simply had to get in touch with the woman who designed them to see if there was something we could do together. It must be something Adam had planned as the reception to my suggestion was very positive. We shook hands and, well the rest is history.

Molly Dolly is here at last and is also illustrated into my new book Adam's Greatest inventions. I most definitely plan to set Molly and her dolly off on their own bedtime adventures in the very near future so watch this space for a new book on this very soon.

'Trendy' Molly & Dolly
I hope you like Molly Dolly and it's a hit with all Adam's little friends, and look forward to more new things next year.

So I guess the moral of this week blog is to always make that phone call if you think you have an idea or can work together with someone. There is nothing to lose in making that first phone call. It worked for me and has given me this week’s Magical Moment.

PS: we only have limited stock so if you think you would like them you can order them on www.adamscloud.com/mollydollies.html

That’s it for this week.
Hugs and Kisses
Benji

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

More Magical Moment Ideas To Have With The Kids


Robbie & Molly have just seen the tickle monster!
Ok, at last, a little break from telling you all about what’s going on and time for more Magical Moment ideas this week.

When I was writing this week’s blog another thought occurred to me.  Kids need to be taught how to play, be creative, have fun and they learn by example. So what I have concluded is that we as parents have to be as silly, funny and creative as possible and basically make a fool of ourselves to teach them how to have fun with lots of great games right from the start. This has been my parenting style and I have to say I am happy with the results so far with the younger two, Molly & Robbie, who are at this moment, preparing to perform a magic show as I type this blog from my kitchen table.

So here are a couple of tried and tested suggestions to get going with from a young age. As always if you have any suggestions please let me know so I can share them. So here we go…

What’s in your Tummy?                                                                                                                    
This is one that Jackie’s mum used to play with her as a kid and she loved it so much she couldn’t wait to try it out on the kids.  So next time you're all snuggled up with the kids on the couch, bed or anywhere put your hand on their tummy and knowing what you gave them to eat during the day simply tell them what you can feel in their tummy. “Is that an apple in your tummy?” “Did you eat a banana today?” or “I think I feel some toast in your tummy, yum yum!”. Keep going through all the things you gave them to eat during the day and the kids will be amazed at your hidden powers to see inside their tummy.

Tickle monster
The kids go mad for this one and it gets lots of giggles. I can only imagine that every mum or dad does this with the kids but just in case here it is. Put both your hands in front of you and shape them like a claw and tell them the tickle monster is hungry for some tickles. The rest is easy, just get tickling on the tummy ribs under the arms, neck, knees, elbows and anywhere else you can find a tickle. The kids love it.

Staring competition
I love doing this with Molly & Robbie and highly recommend giving it a go. I’m sure you know the drill. Stare into each other eyes and the first one to blink, giggle or twitch loses. I always have fun with this one but the best part is that I always get a magical moment that can’t be explained, when for just a couple of seconds our eyes simply say "I love you so much" to each other, it’s amazing.

Guess what I’m drawing on your tummy.
Again another way to have simple relaxed fun with the kids and as the name suggests simply draw a picture, letter or shape on their tummy and ask them to guess what it is. Of course all the answers will always be right it’s not mastermind so you will be able to give lots of those all-important hugs of praise for all the correct answers.

Sock puppet show
We're all into puppets in our house and have puppet pigs, sheep, birds and vampires which are brilliant fun and I highly recommend having some in your house for some creative fun. But when the moment catches you either after dinner at the kitchen table, on the couch or in bed with the kids, grab a sock put it over your hand and slowly creep it up in front of the kids face when they are least expecting it and simply make it say “Hello!”. The reaction is great maybe you should have a camera ready for this one.

Here's a clip of Robbie & Molly performing a puppet show for me:


That’s it for this week more magical moments on the way but something new coming next week I can't wait to tell you about!

Bye for now.
Benji

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Creation of Adam's Greatest Inventions

Adam's 6th book, 'Adam's Greatest Inventions'

Well you may have already heard my new book is out so I thought I would give you a back stage pass to tell you how it all came together.

 Over the past couple of years I have chosen to publish Adam’s Adventure books either on Adam’s Anniversary in August or on his Birthday in June. But with so much going on this year I thought it best to release a little bit pressure and take a bit longer on this one to make sure it is 100%. I am very happy to say that I think this was a good decision because I am delighted with the end product and I hope you and your family enjoy it.

In trying to come up with another great fun idea for Adam’s next adventure a simple thought occurred to me as I played with a great little gadget I got for the house.  The question arose as to what the best invention through history is and “Eureka” the next mission was created.

Robbie & Molly snuggling up before bedtime
So armed with a simple idea of Adam having to decide on what the best invention throughout history was, the next step was to decide on which inventions should be included. I turned to all you guys on Facebook and got some great suggestions and then hopped on Google to try and pick out some faves.

After deciding which inventions to go with next I had to figure out how to include Adam’s important message, and create an affectionate expression of love from the parent to the child at the end of the book. As always this bit ws easy as I just thought of Adam and the answer came quick enough.

Now the plot was set, all I had to do was write the book and get the rhyming and rhythm sorted. Well, this did not get off to a good start as I haven’t written a book in over a year and needed to get into the ‘zone’.
Before & After 1
It took two 12-hour days to write the first line. With 24 words that was an impressive 1 word per hour! It’s fair to say I was getting a little worried that I wasn’t going to have another book in me, but on day 3 I simply closed my eyes and went to a happy place with Adam where he simply started to write the book for me.

Thinking of how mischievous and funny Adam was, the sound of his voice, his giggle and his pure happiness and zest for fun helped me zone in on the magic that is Adam. This combined with thoughts of Molly and Robbie, (Laurel and Hardy mixed with Tom and Jerry), who are now at a magical age where giggles and complete craziness are in full swing, helped set the recipe for something really special. With these thoughts in my head, once I got going the rest simply flowed out and in no time the first draft was done. 

Before & After 2
Next step was getting illustration brief to your favourite illustrator Roxanne, who I can only say was truly inspired on this book and did an amazing job. With recent observations of Molly, Robbie and Harry fresh in my mind I simply tried to recreate some of the wonderful mayhem that is part of my daily life with the kids, into the illustrations. Watching the black and white images come in for approval and then the full colour arriving shortly after really is the best part of publishing  the books and is great to see Adam develop further with each illustration.

Now that the difficult job of publishing the book is complete, the endless job of promoting the book begins so I hope you give it a like and share on Facebook, etc.

Well time to go and earn a crust and get selling. I hope you enjoy Adams latest adventure and get lots of extra hugs and kisses from all your wonderful little bunnies.
Till next time,
Benji.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Live from the very muddy National Ploughing Championships!


Tents, tents and more tents!
Hi everyone, this week’s blog is coming to you live form the National Ploughing Championships in New Ross, Co Wexford.  

As the biggest outdoor agricultural event in Europe it will attract 200,000 visitors over the 3 days, so with all those people around I just had to come.  Here I am sniffling and spluttering my way through the week with a stinker of a head cold battling mud, wet, cold and rain trying to tell everyone about Adam and his books.

Besides feeling a bit groggy it really is quite an experience. When I first arrived on Monday night to set up I felt I had entered a scene from an apocalyptic movie where aliens invaded the earth, and prepared a makeshift tented campus with flood lights & announcements over the PA system, ready to round up and contain all the humans. Really weird.

The kids would have lots of fun in this!
The buzz of excitement on day one, (yesterday), was quickly dampened by shocking weather of driving rain and freezing temperatures. The gloomy faces, most with their hair soaked and stuck to their faces, walked around with wet muddy boots, jeans and jackets. The mood however was temporally interrupted with giggles as a number of people slipped on the muddy floors, arms and legs all over the place, right in front of my stand despite repeated warnings of the dangers. Thankfully no one was injured.

I do wonder though if the lad I saw walking around in nothing more than a tee shirt is still alive or at best in bed with the flu today.

Another day, here we go again!
As the day came to a close everyone was happy to put the day behind them and get ready for day 2, but that was put on hold with a 2 hour traffic jam. We all waited patiently and tried to inch our way out of a field where thousands of cars were trying to squeeze through a single farm gate to an already blocked country lane.

So here we are on day 2 with less rain, a bit warmer and fewer sniffles so hopefully all goes well today.

With snifflly smiles going out to everyone this is Benji signing off till next week’s big surprise!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Go Ga-Ga for a Giggle!


Robbie found it all so funny!
Hi again and thanks for checking out this week’s ‘Benji’s Blog’.

In advance of a lovely surprise for you next week I have a small experiment for you this week to help answer a question that occurred to me while I was at my niece’s amazing wedding last weekend.

While sitting around the table the night before the wedding I was hit with a fit of giggles brought on by good old fashioned banter between friends and family. It was then that a simple thought occurred to me. Do I/we laugh enough? And does laughing make you happier? A fairly straight forward question with a fairly straight forward answer you might think?

While pondering this ancient question that has baffled philosophers and psychologists for years I think I have discovered the answer by way of a small experiment. To know whether you laugh enough you need to measure 2 important things, quality and frequency.

Even walking in the rain makes Molly giggle!
FREQUENCY 
Giggles happen because someone does something funny, silly or by accident, they don’t just arrive on their own. So you have to be silly more often to get at least one quality giggle a day. There are a million ways to make a giggle happen with the kids, including mad dancing in the kitchen, pretending to trip or fall or, my favourite, interrupting a staring competition with the kids by blowing in their face.

QUALITY 
Now for the Stubble Rubble Tickle Experiment to measure giggle quality. We all know what it is like to cry like a baby or sleep like a baby, so now we have to measure if we laugh like a baby to know if we laugh enough.

All you need is 2 small pudgy baby hands and a bit of facial stubble. Sorry Mums, unless you have a beard this one is only for the Dads but be sure to make them have a go. Simply grab the baby’s hands so that their palm is on your face. Then slide their palms across your face for the best stubble tickle ever.  The kids love it and giggle their nappies off and should send you off on a giggle as well. For extra fun try it with the soles of their feet.

Harry having a great giggle while holding Adam.
When you know how a baby laughs and giggles it is only then that you know whether your laughs meet the quality criteria for a good quality giggle. Giggles need to be made and giggles need to be big so we can all laugh enough and be happy in our nappies every day.

Please send in your ideas for getting a giggle in your house to benjisblog@adamscloud.com, so that we can share them and maybe you could win a prize.

Till next week, lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Benji. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

There’s Magic on The Streets For Everyone To Share

Before I get into this week’s blog I just wanted to thank everyone who posted a review and downloaded the 'Before you Sleep' iBook on the Apple iStore. THANKS A BUNCH!  J

Now! On with the show! This week I would like to share a magical moment I had with the kids last weekend and offer a suggestion on how you might capture the same magic with your family.

My Magical Moment This Week
Fun & games on Dun Laoghaire Pier

You may have noticed me “Facebooking” and tweeting like a madman over the weekend? Well that was because there was such a wonderful atmosphere in Dun Laoghaire as the MOD70 European boat race came to town.  

As impressive as the huge Trimarans were, racing around Dublin Bay, it was the wonderful street performers that stole the show for me & the kids. Jugglers, magicians and street acrobats all swooped down to the pier loaded up with giggles galore as they cast their magical spell on all the kids and their Mums & Dads.

What made this experience particularly magical and memorable was hearing the excited screams and laughs bursting out of Molly and Robbie as they watched in amazement, and interacted with these truly talented performers. It really was one of those days where your heart can’t help but dance as a warm feeling of happiness envelopes everyone with the sound of children laughing in the sun in a wonderful setting. 

Here is a small clip of the fun with Robbie, still wearing his helmet, and Molly bursting with excitement. Great fun.




Discover The Magic for Yourself

So this week I share with you the magic of the streets. You don’t have to wait till the next festival to come your way to catch these guys, they are always out and about on the streets doing their thing and entertaining the masses with their unusual talents.

So, for a magical family day out I strongly recommend taking the kids into town on the bus, train, bike or by foot and make your way to the nearest tourist hotspot or pedestrianized area, where you will be guaranteed to find a wonderful act waiting to cast their magical spell on you and the kids. Don’t forget to fill their hats to thank them for entertaining you all, and afterwards why not splash out on a little treat for the kids to make it an extra special day to remember.

It's amazing what these guys can do!
As always, let me know if and where you find them so I can spread the word. Dublin’s Grafton Street or Temple Bar on Sunday is always great, and of course if you happen to get the chance to visit London’s Covent Garden it is amazing. You could check out “Street Theatre Ireland” on Facebook, they are doing a gig in Cabinteely Park at 1 o’clock on 23rd of September or let me know of any other places you think would be useful at benjisblog@adamscloud.com.

Don’t forget we need your help so please share the Magical Moments blogs with your friends and help make a hug!

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Benji. 

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Great News! Can you help me share it?


Well, I can only assume you are all rejoicing at the fact that the kids are gone back to school, Thank God! I know it seemed like only 5 minutes before they all arrived back dumping the bags at the front door, searching the cupboards for food and trashing the clean kitchen in the process, but I hope you all took a moment to yourselves before they got back. Next stop, Halloween and Christmas Day which, by the way, is only 142 days away. Yippee!

We interrupt this Magical Moments blog with a

Very Important Service Announcement….



Before You Sleep is now available as an iBook!
Before You sleep is now available in the iStore!
Before You Sleep - Benji Bennett & Roxanne Burchartz

'Before you Sleep' is now an amazing iBook that you can download directly from the Apple iStore. Whoa! That’s so cool, I hope this gets your approval, referrals and reviews.

And here's some even better news, to celebrate this launch we've set the price at €1.99 for the rest of the week, (it's normally €3.99), so hurry, hurry! Here's the link to the Apple iStore again.

It was a rather difficult decision to turn “Before you Sleep” into an iBook given the debate that rages around kids and electronics these days. I guess if it means lots more extra hugs and kisses for more kids it is probably worth taking the chance, so I hope you agree and give me your ‘likes’.

Just look for 'Before You Sleep' on iTunes, we're there!
What’s most exciting is that 'Before you Sleep' magically comes to life with wonderful sound effects to accompany my specially recorded reading of the book, which of course you can turn off if you want. The 4-6 year old kids in the focus group have given it the thumbs up, so it’s fully approved by the critics!

Maybe you could help me and Adam touch more families by doing us a huge favour and post a review or rating on the Apple iStore to help it get up the rankings. Hopefully this will allow more families receive Adam’s little message of love, laughter and fun in the home.

This ends our Important Service Announcement. 

Normal Magical Moments service resumes next week...


… so that’s it for this week I hope you enjoyed our magical moment. Thanks again for all your support and stay tuned for a big surprise from me and Adam in the coming weeks.  Oh and please share this with your friends, thanks!

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Benji.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Benji’s Back to School Survival Guide

Me, Robbie & Molly sending Harry off to school again!
As another Irish monsoon comes to a close the wonderful memories of soggy sandcastles, muddy wellies and magical smiles peeping out from under cute little umbrellas, are now being replaced by expectations of the months ahead and the longing for structure, routine and sanity.

In anticipation of that long awaited cup of tea in pure heavenly silence and whispering to ourselves “thank God they’re back”, this week I thought I’d help you get through the morning and reach that magical cup of tea moment with my ‘Back to School Survival Guide’. So here goes:
 

The Night Before
  1. Let your boss know you’ll be a little late in the morning  and make ‘Back to School Day’ a fun family day that the kids will enjoy and remember.
  2. Don’t worry if you are missing any book list or uniform items, they can all be got in the days after while the kids are in school, and when you actually have your brain with you for the first time in 8 weeks.
  3. Try to start as you mean to go on. Set the table for breakfast, lay all the kid’s clothes out in their bedrooms and pack the lunchboxes and pop them in the fridge. Even better, get the kids to help.
  4. At bedtime spend some time discussing, step by step, what has to happen the next day and what they are responsible for themselves. They have to wash their face and brush their teeth, dress themselves, eat breakfast, check they have their lunchbox and coat, etc. Also a good idea is to discuss how they will get to school, walking, bus, etc.

Back to School Morning
  1. Set the alarm a bit earlier. Kids dig their heels in when they know they are being rushed then panic, stress and tears all follow in quick succession. So give yourself plenty of time.
  2. Try and all have breakfast together and go through the ‘getting to school routine’ that you discussed the night before, letting them know that this is not a drill but the real thing and make it a bit of fun.
  3. First impressions last so make a small effort. At least once during the year we all have one of those days where we drop the kids to school in our slippers with jam on our pyjamas, porridge in our hair and bags under our eyes. Just make sure you don’t use up that once off day on ‘Back to School Day’ so don’t forget to brush your own hair before you leave the house.
  4. No doubt there will be tears when you get to school as the buzz and excitement gets too much for the smaller ones. I am afraid there is no magic wand for this one and it happens to everyone. All I can tell you is that they will be having fun 30 seconds after you’ve gone so get out as quickly as possible before they get the chance to realise what’s happening and Velcro themselves to your inner thigh. If that happens, which it will for some of you, tell them you love them and no matter what happens you will be back to collect them after they have had all the fun in school.
  5. After you have heaved a massive sigh of relief and all the pent up stress of the summer leaves your body, fix yourself a nice cup of tea and a biscuit and enjoy your very own magical moment all to yourself, you truly deserve it because after all you are a great Mum or Dad.
 
Good luck with it all! After you've got through it why don't you let me know of your own experiences by posting them below, or on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/AdamsCloud, or you can email them to me directly at benjisblog@adamscloud.com.
 
Don’t forget we need your help so please share my blog with your friends and help make a hug!

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Benji.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Magical Moments Money Can’t Buy

The summer holidays are nearly over so I thought I would reflect back on some fun I had both as a kid myself, and with my own kids from this summer and summers gone by. In the hope that you can squash some last minute family fun in before the end of the summer I will share with you my top 10 magical moments. I would also love to hear about some of the fun things you did so I can share them with everyone so please send them in to benjisblog@adamscloud.com.  Thanks!


1. Camping in the Back Garden

I know I've spoken about camping on the beach with Adam in a previous blog but it's worth mentioning again. When I was kid I went camping in a friends back garden and still remember, as if it was yesterday, the magical feeling and the thrill of the camp fire, the spooky glow of the torch, roasting marshmallows, scary ghost stories, cooked sausages, a real coal barbecue, singing songs and staying up late. Great for any age, I strongly recommend getting together as a family or with a couple of friends or cousins and have a good old fashioned camp-out in the back garden before the end of the holidays. It costs nothing, it's great fun and you have the comfort of the house for wee's and poo's as well as emergency shelter if a hurricane decides to arrive!

Fun on the river in Brittas Bay!
2. Canoe up a River

Ok, I know you need kayak, canoe or boat with life jackets for this one but it's definitely one of my favourite things to do and has created some of my most precious moments with the kids. The smaller the river the better with lush riverbanks and overhanging trees. So make contact with your local waterways website to see what’s involved.






The whole Moriarty family out for a spin!
3. Family Scoot or Cycle

Although I have had plenty of scooter outings with the kids this summer the outings on the bike have been few and far between, but I certainly felt the need to get the bikes sorted again when I met the whole Moriarty family out for a leisurely cycle while Jackie and I were out for a walk. This is a must for all families and a summer moment to remember with fondness.





4. Big Game of Rounders

Another fond memory of mine was a big game of rounders in the local green space with all my friends and other kids on my road . So to step it up a notch and make an unforgettable day out grab a portable barbecue, burgers, drinks and a tennis ball & racquet and head for the nearest open space with family and friends and have the Boys and Mums against the Dads and Girls game of rounders. Break for food and a rest before the second innings for another amazing day out with lots of fun and giggles.

Robbie found the biggest leaf ever on his scavenger hunt!
5. Scavenger Hunt

An old scout’s favourite that will never fail to spark off some high pitched excitement is the tried and tested scavenger hunt. This can be played in the house with the smaller ones or in the back garden, local park, forest or beach. Simply make a list of things the kids have to go and find then give them the list and let them off! Things on the list can be anything from a drinks bottle or acorn to a Y-shaped twig or different coloured flowers.


6. Treasure Hunt

A treasure hunt does take a little more effort and time to organise but is great and well worth it. The treasure can be anything but gold chocolate coins and goodies are always a hit. The more clues the better and including a little riddle or rhyme adds to the fun. Again a treasure hunt can be organised within the house, garden or local park. Most importantly the last clue should be a treasure map with a couple of landmarks and an 'X' that marks the spot.

Harry, Robbie & Molly having fun in the mud!
7. Mudslide

Ok you do need a big hill and access to a very big bucket of water so this may not be possible for everyone but this year the kids had a ball on the mudslide in Brittas. Pour a big bin of water with a bit of washing up liquid down a grassy hill and to get them sliding down you may need to repeat the process a couple of times, but the results are an amazing mud fest which is very messy but unforgettable. Adam was lucky enough to have fun on the mud slide so highly recommended.

8. Climb a Mountain

As a kid I loved going for walks up the mountains with my dad. One of the best days we had at the start of the summer was a huge trip down memory lane for me when we climbed the sugarloaf in Wicklow and had a picnic on the top. The view is spectacular and Robbie’s words summed up the day perfectly “This is the best day of my life.” So take a trip to your nearest mountain or hill with a view for a picnic, you won’t be disappointed.

9. Drink The Rain Dance

Surely we can all remember a time when we opened our mouths to the sky to drink the rain and still have this as a fond memory. So the next time we have a downpour, which is likely to be very soon, get out there and do a rain dance in the muddy puddles with the kids. Get soaking wet, drink the rain, and laugh like you’ve never laughed before. When you’re all done get everyone in for a bath, hot chocolate and a movie night.

10. Wash the Car Day

No family photo album can ever be complete without a photo of the kids trashing your car with a sponge and a bucket of soapy water. You'll have hours of fun and your previously clean car will have lots of lovely water streaks all over it but it'll be worth it. Caution a trip to the car wash for one final rinse just might be required but the kids love that as well.


If you can recommend any other fun activities that can help create Magical Moments with the kids then please post them below, or on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/AdamsCloud, or you can email them to me directly at benjisblog@adamscloud.com.

Don’t forget we need your help so please share the Magical Moments blogs with your friends and help make a hug!

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Benji.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Follow Your Dreams


With love in your heart and belief in an Idea anything is possible. This week’s blog is about how Adam's books came to be.

As last Monday was my birthday I would like to start out by saying a big huge THANK YOU for all the beautiful birthday wishes I received. But some of you may not know that it was also Adam's 5th year Anniversary and the day that Adam’s message of love, laughter and play in the family hit me like a bolt from the sky with crystal clarity and what I needed to do to make sense of what had happened and survive the wreckage.

Exactly one year later, in an attempt to remember Adam, spread his simple message and help parents develop a strong loving relationship with their kids, 'Before You Sleep' was published.  So to create a small distraction for myself this week I thought I would write a bit about how Adam's books came to be.

Getting a book published by a main stream publisher is quite simply like winning the lotto.
For many different reasons I was desperate to have Adam’s books published, not because I wanted to be an important writer but because I felt I had something important to write.

I Initially tried a couple of publishers to see if they were interested in my book but quickly received very polite rejection letters if any at all.

I could not handle the fact that an entry level editor trying to make their name in the publishing industry had the power to decide my fate and the fate of Adam’s books so I decided to take control of our destiny and go for it myself.

So, with the help of a friend who had some experience in the publishing industry I identified 3 key things a publisher does that I would have to do myself if I wanted things to work out.

1. Finance my book
2. Gain distribution for my book
3. Market and promote my book

So off to the bank with a business plan and box number one was ticked.

Distribution was a bit more of a scary prospect.  However with the help of a great friend I got an introduction to the key buyer in a large distributor who believed in what I was trying to do and gave his full support. I contacted a second large distributor with no introduction and they also were very supportive and agreed to take the books in. Box 2 ticked.

With a desperate need for everyone to see Adam and know about how wonderful he was I got on the phone and started ringing TV and radio stations, newspapers and magazines and told them my story, and followed up with a press release and photos of Adam. The response was amazing and word quickly got out about a beautiful book parents could read to their children before they go to sleep.

TV3 were the first to invite me on to Ireland AM, (you can see this interview below, sorry about the quality), and more appearances followed on the Late Late Show and BBC Breakfast.  You can see all of these in the media section on the Adams Cloud website.


A few months later “Before you Sleep” was nominated and against all the odds won the Book of the Year at the Irish Books Awards. An amazing night that I will never forget, but oddly, in hindsight, was just something that was always supposed to happen.

Of course there is a lot of detail behind the scenes but self-publishing Before You Sleep was not about the book as much about dealing with the loss of Adam and a way for me to remember some of the fun times we had together. You may be interested to read the first ever book I wrote. It is as yet unpublished but I thought I would post the unedited version here for you to read to the kids.  Just let me know if that is something you would like to see, I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Of course none of this would have happened without the support, belief and encouragement from Jackie as she nursed our new baby Molly that changed our lives, and from Harry and Robbie who have demonstrated enormous strength, love and character over the years.

So I guess the message this week is that no matter how bad, desperate or impossible things seem with your family around you, with love in your heart and belief in an idea anything is possible, you just have to have the courage to make the change and make it happen.  Follow your dreams.

Lots of love, hugs & kisses,
Benji.

P.S. If you are interested in self-publishing and would like any information or advice then just drop me an email at benjisblog@adamscloud.com.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

When You Were a Baby...


The last time the Olympics were on in 2008 I pretty much saw every event live from China in the early hours of the morning and was lucky enough to watch Michael Phelps win each of his gold medals.  For me those Olympics were part of one of the most memorable moments in my life.

The reason?  Well of course it was not because of Olympic Champion Michael Phelps but rather my very own little champion, 6 week old little Molly Bennett who finished every bottle in record time as I fed her her midnight feed. It was truly amazing as I watched history being made in between back patting, tummy rubbing, nappy changing and the odd burp as trapped wind escaped from her tiny tummy. Little did I know at the time how happy Molly would make us all today.

4 years later by total coincidence Molly was sitting with me on the couch and I flicked on the Olympics only to see Phelps in the pool again. With Molly snuggled into me I began to tell her the story about when she was a baby she got very hungry in the middle of the night and how I would have to get up and give her lots of kisses, feed her a bottle, change her nappy and settle her down in the stillness of an early summer morning so she could get her beauty sleep just as the two of us watched the man on the telly win all his gold medals.

Then something really lovely happened, Molly decided to simply pretend she was a baby again and I acted out the routine of feeding her in my arms rubbing her tummy patting her back and giving her hugs and kisses just the way I did when she was a baby. She loved it and we had magical moment as Phelps raced up and down the pool chasing another gold medal.

Why am I telling you this story? Well simple really. I have discovered that the kids no matter how old love to hear a little story about when they were babies, what they did and what they said. They particularly love the funny stories involving wee, poo, barfing or how they totally embarrassed us poor old parents. Harry’s favourite story is the one of him escaping from a dressing room as mum was changing and streaking around a department store when he was 4. Hilarious!

So to create this week’s Magical moment and get those extra giggles hugs and kisses tell the kids a little story about when they were smaller, they will love it and get the chat and communication going from an early age.

Let us know your stories and the reaction you got from the kids when you tell them their little story. You can post them below, or on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/AdamsCloud, or you can email them to me directly at benjisblog@adamscloud.com.

Don’t forget we need your help so please share the Magical Moments blogs with your friends and help make a hug.

Just in case you are interested here is a vid of Phelps winning his medals in China.


Lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Benji.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Magical Moments on the Beach


Well when I started writing this blog on Monday the weather was OK and looking good but the drizzle is back so while trying to keep the faith I am still hoping that you will all get a chance to get out and about this weekend in some nice weather.

So, with this in mind I thought I would suggest a couple of fun things to do on the beach.  Don’t worry if you don’t get to the beach because if you improvise slightly you can play all these games in the park, back garden or pretty much anywhere.

OK we all know the standard games that are great fun for the beach.  Football, building sandcastles and digging holes. But here are a couple of extra ones that I have played with the kids that are great fun and I have included a couple of short videos so you can get the idea. 

As always we love to hear your ideas and thoughts so keep them coming so I can share them with all the other Mums and dads and generate hugs and kisses through Magical Moments.

So here are my suggestions with instructions:

1. Beach Busy Dizzy Whizzy
  • Bury a packet of crisps, shell or other item that could be considered treasure and mark it with an 'X'.
  • Get a stick and draw a spiral in the stand. Start at the X in the sand and work your way out, the bigger the spiral the better. When you think the spiral is big enough continue on with your line and loop and bend it around the beach. When you have finished the end of your line is the start line for the kids.
  • Bring the kids to the start of the line and tell them there is some treasure buried at the end of the line but they have to follow the line and stay on it or the treasure will disappear. Add some more excitement by telling them that the treasure keeps moving around and they have to hurry before it disappears.
  • Let them off and have great fun watching them follow the line and get dizzy as the end up in the middle of the spiral with a bump and find their reward.
Check out this vid of my kids doing it, I forgot to put the treasure in but they love this game:


2. Beach Ball Bulls Eye
Ok this is really simple but great fun.
  • Draw a bulls eye target on the sand the centre circle is 100 points the middle 50 pts and the outside is 25 points. 
  • Build a big cone of sand about 5 meters away from the target and place a football on the top. 
  • The kids get 3 goes to kick the ball off the cone onto the target to get their points. 

3. Beach Cone Dibble Dribble
Develop those soccer skills with this fun beach game
  • Make 6 or 7 big cones out of the sad about 2 meters apart 
  • Set the timer on your watch and see who can dribble a football in and out of the sand cones to the end and back fastest time wins. 
  • You can add on 2 second penalty for hitting a cone or going the wrong way through the cones. 
Here is Harry doing it


4. Olympic Beach Long Jump
  • Make a line in the sand. 
  • Flatten the sand after the line so you can mark where the kiddies land. 
  • Longest run and jump wins.

5. Beach Buggy Buildathon
Let your design skills run riot with this
  • Dig two rectangular holes to fit two people in the front and two in the back you can go that extra mile and dig a step in the hole so the kids have a back rest to lean on and a foot well for their feet. 
  • Add the steering wheel using a bucket decorate the bonnet with seashells and add those go fast stripes using seaweed don’t forget the gear stick using your spade. 
  • When it’s all done see where the kids take you on your beach buggy journey.

6. Beach Hopscotch
I presume this needs no description but just in case all you need is a shell and your hopscotch mat drawn on the sand.
  • Draw your hopscotch boxes from 1 to 10 on the sand. 
  • Throw your shell on box no 1 and hopscotch to the top and back without touching box no 1 with your feet. 
  • On the way back standing on one leg you have to pick up our shell without falling over and hopscotch back to base. 
  • On your next go have to throw your shell into box No 2 and do the same again. 
  • The person to get the shell in all 10 boxes and hopscotch to the top and back each time without falling over is the winner.

I hope you have fun on the beach and if you've had any magical moments of your own that you'd like to share, (from the beach or anywhere), just post them below, or on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/AdamsCloud, or you can email them to me directly at benjisblog@adamscloud.com.  Bye for now.

Lots of love, hugs and kisses,
Benji.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Rain Rain Go Away!


Ok It’s been raining a lot recently and all your plans for having fun with the kids have been disrupted. But all this rain has reminded me of one of my most precious memories with Adam and an experience that lead me to writing children’s books, which would never have happened if I'd let the rain interfere with fun with the kids.

So almost exactly 5 years to the day a couple of dads got together to organise an overnight camp out in the sand dunes of the beautiful Brittas Bay beach. Everything was organised and the excitement paramount. 

When camp day finally arrived it was accompanied by the rain of all rains and total panic ensued. The Met Office radar updates showed the rain was down for the day and one by one the dads dropped like flies. “It’s too wet”, “we’ll catch our death out there”, “we can’t bring the kids out in that”, “no way, I didn’t sign up for this.”

Undeterred I kept checking the Met Office radar updates every 15 minutes and deduced that the rain would stop by about 9pm and it was still worth going for it. After a small amount of convincing 4 dads stuck with me and said “what the hell, let’s just do it, sure the worst thing that can happen is that we will have a great story to tell and to laugh about when the kids are older.” Us 4 dads became instant heroes to a rendition of cheers and excited screams.

After a wet but fun start to our campout the rain stopped, we got the campfire going and roasted marshmallows, ate burgers, sang songs and told scary stories, it was amazing. The following morning we were woken up by powerful happy endorphins radiated by the early morning sun, with a single puff cloud in an otherwise perfectly blue sky.

This was to be my most treasured memory of Adam and a lesson for me to never give up on anything especially when it comes to having fun and creating magical moments with the kids. So my message is to remember that there is always something magical and wonderful locked away and hidden in what appears to be horrible or difficult, and to unlock it all you need is love, laughter and fun in the family.

The first book I ever wrote in memory of Adam was inspired by that particular day, the fun we had and a magical moment I am blessed to have shared with Adam. It’s funny it is as vivid now as it was 5 years ago. 

If you've had any magical moments of your own that you'd like to share just post them below, or on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/AdamsCloud, or you can email them to me directly at benjisblog@adamscloud.com.  Thanks!

Till next week
Love hugs and kisses to all.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A Magical Moment with Robbie


Hi there,
A Magical Moment with Robbie, under the stars
While I was away on a short break with the family I was lucky enough to experience a number of magical moments with the kids and thought I would share one with you in the hope you catch a magical moment for yourselves.

So Robbie, age 5, and I are lying on sunbeds looking at the stars and a lovely conversation ensues about the moon, how we could get there and who lives on the moon. We then spot a satellite racing across the night sky and then a shooting star, Robbie’s first time to see a real shooting star. 

The excitement is infectious and we both make a wish. Robbie tells me he can’t tell me his wish because it is bad luck so I tell him that he is always allowed to tell someone in his family his wish but no one else, so he tells me his wish which is lovely and selfless but I’m afraid has to remain between the two of us.

Next we turn our attention to the stars and I tell him that they are the same size as our sun but look small because they are so far away and I do my best to explain that the light from the stars is over 2000 years old because that is how long it takes the light from a star to get here.

Finally we go beyond the stars and we talk a little bit about the Milky Way, galaxies and where heaven fits into all this, remember Robbie is 5 so you can imagine the questions.

Then comes our very special moment, Robbie says, “Dad how come you love me so much?" “Well Robbie,” I reply, “That’s easy, when you were in heaven before you were born God asked you who you wanted to have as your Mummy and Daddy, and do you know what Robbie?”, "What Daddy?” “out of all the Mums and Dads in all the world you picked me and mummy and that is why we love you so much.” “Oh” Robbie replies, “now I know why I love you so much as well, because I picked you, that’s good.” he says.

What a never to be forgotten magical moment that was, and a fitting way to begin what I hope will be a very enjoyable blog for everyone. I do hope that you manage to get a chance to see the stars this summer and that you catch a magical moment to share with your amazing inquisitive smallies.

If you've had any magical moments of your own that you'd like to share just post them below, or on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/AdamsCloud, or you can email them to me directly at benjisblog@adamscloud.com.  Thanks!

Till next week
Love hugs and kisses to all.
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