NASA on Mars leaves me in awe – Kieran Howard

The surface of Mars taken by the Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on the robotic arm of NASA's InSight lander.
The surface of Mars taken by the Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC), located on the robotic arm of NASA's InSight lander.

I already knew NASA and I were literally worlds apart, but it's been even further evidenced with their successful landing of the InSight probe on Mars.  

I watched on in absolute awe last Monday as they confirmed the lander had safely touched down on the Red Planet.
I saw it all unfold via their live YouTube channel on the tablet.
I was viewing mission control celebrating the incredible achievement, while keeping an eye on Lennie on the baby monitor at the same time.
I was basically operating my own mission control, except mine involved a Tommee Tippee screen positioned next to an iPad. 
To say it wasn't as high-tech would be quite an understatement.
So, NASA can get robots to planets millions of miles away, and yet I struggle to park Louie's tricycle in the shed without knocking a tin of paint off the shelf.
I wouldn't even be able to land a drone in my neighbour's garden.
It's an effort just to get a piece of train track back in the toy box from the other side of the lounge without it falling short.
InSight had also taken its first selfie within hours of arriving in its new home.
It took me about two weeks to work out how to do the same with my Samsung.

Well done NASA.

Floored by three children’s parties in just one weekend 

The Howards are smashing records left, right and Burgess Hill at the moment. We set two new personal bests in the space of one weekend last week. 

The first of our new PBs came courtesy of yet another birthday party – this time in Burgess Hill, West Sussex.

Yes, you read that right. West Sussex. Not even somewhere else in Hampshire. That's how committed we are to birthday cake. We completed a return trip of 126 miles and three hours for a kid's birthday party – the farthest and longest we've covered by quite some margin.

I can't even remember the last time I went that far to celebrate a friend's birthday. Football and family, but not necessarily in that order, is all that usually gets me journeying more than 20 miles.

In all honesty though, I'd rather attend a boy's fourth birthday bash, than watch Southampton play at the moment.

Speaking of which, we returned home that evening with just as many points as Saints did from their Premier League visit to Fulham – zero.

Prior to setting our new record, we'd barely ventured outside of Gosport for one of his friend's gatherings. Until that point, the trips out had been little more than 10 minute affairs, and we could easily have left the car at home.

We've set a dangerous precedent though. I feel like we need to better that achievement. 

We may have to go continent for his next party. He'll have to start making some pen pals (or whatever the equivalent is these days) in France.

Anyway, Louie loved every minute of his day out along (sort of along) the coast. He and the many other children present took particular delight in their determined efforts to completely empty the large ball-pit.

They took even greater delight at the end of play, watching half a dozen adults, myself included, trying to locate and round up all the spilled balls. 

It's quite a spectator sport, let me tell you. They roll and get wedged absolutely everywhere.

How one ended up in Lennie's pram with him, despite being positioned a considerable distance from said pit, I'll never know.

Louie demonstrated his displeasure at having to leave with a sit-down protest on the bouncy castle. 

He'd still be sat there now if we hadn't bribed him with some more cake.

That party was one of three over the course of that weekend, bringing me to our second new PB – three parties in a single weekend. 

Now, that really is quite some feat, although not something we'd be too keen to happen too often. 

Louie's fully recovered. We haven't.