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There seems to be some sort of time and space inconsistency regarding half term, it feels like it has taken forever for this week to get here, yet almost as soon as its started, its pretty much over again! Thursday already, how did THAT happen?

Thursday is one of Olivia’s nursery days, and with both me and Clare off work, that left us with a few hours spare to ourselves. We decided to head out to Merry Hill for a bit of Christmas shopping, yes thats right Christmas shopping in October, check ME out!! Its not that I am trying to be especially organised, I just need to be able to spread the cost out over more than just the one payday, rather than leaving everything until my December pay and having a very poor January like I normally do. We managed to tick off a few items, and considered it a successful trip and headed home for a little lunch. We had a few hours left before picking up Olivia and so set about tidying the house as we had some friends coming for dinner and this was our only chance to get things done. Its lovely to be able to have people come over for dinner, and its something we definitely don’t do enough of. In the flat we just didn’t really have the room for it, although we did try to make do with the space we had, but now we have much more space and a dinner table that can seat up to eight people. So I sometimes wonder why we’re aren’t cooking for people more often! Today was all about risotto, one of my favourite things to cook. It always takes a little longer than I think its going to, but the result is always worth it. It was a simple recipe that I just pulled from the internet when I first had the inspiration to cook my own risotto, I can’t even remember what first made me want to cook it, as I don’t ever remember eating it before, so in reality I wasn’t actually sure what it was supposed to taste like or what the consistency was supposed to be. I’ve since eaten risotto in restaurants and actually prefer mine! The best bit about risotto is that everything is cooked in one pan, and that makes cleaning up quite easy, and definitely one of the best decisions we made when moving into this house was putting a dishwasher in the kitchen! Dinner went down well, and there wasn’t much left of dessert either, and there was even some damage done to the red wine I bought. A very pleasant night indeed and a great chance to catch up with my running partner Rob and his lovely wife, ahead of getting back into the running with him.

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A lovely family day, and with the weather outside looking grey and miserable, it was nice to just have a day at home with my two favourite ladies. We were supposed to have a friend visit us for lunch, although they had to cancel at the last minute, and so left us without any plans. Yes, there was lots we could have done instead, places we could have gone to etc, but it was actually nice just to have a relaxing day at home, it was the first one since Olivia had first come out of hospital. I was feeling rotten anyway, tired, cold and aching, like I was coming down with something, so I was more than happy to put my feet up and just take it easy for a day. I had all I needed around me, my wife, my daughter and the chance to spend some quality time with them.

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A slightly emotional start to Tuesday. With Clare getting ready for work it was down to me to get Olivia ready and off to nursery, although we all left the house at the same time and walked together as Clare headed to the bus stop. It was a nice way to start the day leaving the house at the same time and walking in the autumn sunshine. As the nursery is very close to the bus stop, Clare always drops Olivia at nursery on her way to work, so today was the first time for me, and I was a little aware of how Olivia hasn’t been herself and has been very clingy for the last couple of days, on top of the fact that she is a real daddys girl, there’s no doubting that, and is much more likely to react when I put her down and try and leave. Sadly, this prophecy became true and we had the tears and screaming that I anticipated, a first for her at nursery as normally she is quite happy when her mom drops her off. It was a tough one, I knew that a cuddle would fix everything instantely, and thats all she wanted, but it was a short term solution and not likely to do much good in the long term… but, was it just the fact that she still wasn’t feeling herself?? Oh what to do!? The nursery staff did a great job of trying to comfort and distract her, it was enough for me to try and sneak out of there, although I did have to phone them an hour later just to check she was okay and had settled down. It certainly did tug at the heart strings though, and for a moment I was completely torn, I just didn’t know what to do for the best. I was off work all day and knew that in reality I didn’t actually have to leave her there, which didn’t help, but I knew she’d love it when she was there, and I had to carry on putting down loft panels, which I knew would take all day. In the end it all worked out and she was fine, and I even got a few loft panels down.

The only other consideration was my evening jujitsu class, which I really wasn’t in the mood for, and I am still considering at least taking a break from for a couple of months. I made it there in the end tonight, although with Olivia still not herself and me not feeling really feeling it this evening, I’d left it to the last possible minute to leave the house. It was fun, and we were pushed hard, but I didn’t have the energy for it and was glad to be home. Its got to that time of year when its not only dark when I leave, but also dark when I get there too, which doesn’t seem to help, but I quickly grabbed todays shot on the way out.

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Monday morning is so much nicer when you don’t have to go to work, although as usual there was no rest, no lie in, the biological alarm clock sleeping in the next room made sure of that! Yes, little Olivia was up and looking for some attention, only today it was for a different reason. Normally there is some shouting and our little wriggle monster explodes out of the bedroom wanting to explore everything… only today she didn’t want any of that, today she just wanted cuddles, lots of them. In fact, it was cuddles from when she got up to when she went back down a couple of hours later for her morning nap. Things got slightly better as the day went on, but Olivia was still not eating much and still very quiet. She just wasn’t her usual self, and I have always tried to make sure that days like this don’t cause us to worry, or have us phoning the doctor or rushing to A&E. We like to think that we are fairly relaxed and that we would be able to spot when something was really serious and needed attention. I think its the fact we’ve been so relaxed all throughout the pregnancy and since that has made Olivia a very relaxed and happy baby, I just hope those smiles return in the morning so she can get off to nursery and spend some time playing with her friends.

This evening I was landed with some bad news, although it doesn’t affect anyone else, just me. My favourite internet radio station, Lunatic Radio, is closing down. Its New York based, and although I rarely listen live because of the time difference, I do listen to it each week on download, or podcast as some people may know it. Its hosted by two funny guys, Kieran and Rock and is undoubtably the longest running internet radio show dating back to the year 1999. I started listening myself in late 2006 and have rarely missed one of their weekly broadcasts in all that time. Consequently, this news is very disappointing, and so I intend to get myself a couple of beers and stay up for tonights final broadcast. It might all sound a bit geeky, but they are two genuinely cool guys who I’d still buy a beer for if I ever ended up in NYC!

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No sleeping in this weekend, not even with an extra hour in bed as the clocks go back marking the end of British Summer Time. My alarm was set early, but that didn’t stop me from waking up early, as I was due to head out and collect my final christmas present from last year. Clare had bought me a Silverstone tour voucher, and I had until the end of September to redeem it. I was delighted with it on christmas day when I opened it, and remember putting it to one side thinking about booking it when I had the chance… until the new year rolled around and the christmas decorations came down, and suddenly the voucher was forgotten about. Thankfully Clare reminded me in time and I managed to get the day booked in time, and with a friend as the day was a tour for two, and I couldn’t imagine Clare being any less interested in anything. I wouldn’t want to put her through two and a half hours of Formula 1 history, and enlisted my friend Duncan to join me, one of the dads in our antenatal group. We had also arranged for his wife to head over to our house so our daughters could play together and we could all have lunch together when me and Duncan got back. 10

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Lunch was lovely although the two little ladies didn’t eat a great deal. Olivia was split between wanting to play with Amber and being all clingy, not wanting to let go of me or Clare, which is a usual sign that her teeth are playing up, and she probably has a new one coming through. We’ve had to learn to accept that this is going to be a regular thing for a while now, she still has a lot more teeth to come yet, and there will be days when she is just a bit grumpy, off her food, and only wanting cuddles and reassurance. If she doesn’t eat, then we don’t worry too much, as she always makes up for it the next day. The clocks shifting back has meant we’ve got to adjust her bedtime so she isn’t now going to bed at 6:30pm instead, but it was difficult to keep her up, because when this little lady needs to sleep, nothing else in the world matters!

It might be the end of the weekend, but it wasn’t over yet, so we decided to finish the night with a few drinks and a film, although sadly the inevitable happened again, and Clare was falling asleep before the film had even reached halfway! I guess in reality, it wasn’t really that early when you consider the clocks changing. We can always try again next weekend!

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The weekend starts again with more running. After we’d recovered from last weekends half marathon, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t take a break from the running. The company behind some of the biggest running events, Great Run, have organised a new 10k run for Birmingham next year, in addition to their half marathon, and I am hoping to take part in it and get myself a good time. Its going to get colder and wetter over the winter, and it will mean that some real commitment is needed to keep up the training, but as we’re doing 10k runs each Saturday morning already anyway, it just means that we need to keep doing what we’re already doing and start slowly building up the pace after christmas. When I first ran with Eve, she could only manage the usual 10k run I did in 1Hr 23min but today after weeks of training for the half marathon, we got the 10 down to 1hr 8min shaving 15 whole minutes off that first run. Not a bad improvement at all, so I am really hoping that we can get down to around an hour before xmas! Hopefully from next weekend I’ll have my old running buddy Rob back on the running scene with us, as I haven’t seen him since before I started the half marathon training with Eve. His pace is slightly faster than mine in a half marathon, and even in training there will be a significant difference in speed between him and Eve, so I am hoping we can bring her pace up in the next couple of weeks a bit, while he is still a bit slow getting back into it.

My Saturday was planned into three sections, the first being this mornings run, the second being a bit of family time out somewhere, and the wife came up with the idea to visit a local duck pond with some bread. Olivia loved watching the ducks and it was great to be outdoors with her, as I personally don’t think we get out enough. Getting some fresh air, and seeing all the autumn colours with my two favourite people was a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I can’t wait until Olivia is walking and can start exploring properly! I took my camera to get a few photos of our walk, as these memories are what I’m looking forward to showing Olivia when she’s older.

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The Third part of the day was the 40th birthday of my friends wife at a local pub, well, local to them, not to us. We didn’t want to ask Clare’s parents to baby sit as they look after Olivia three days a week already, and my mom doesn’t have a car any more, so I asked one of my sisters who was more than happy to oblige. She came round with her other half early so she could see Olivia before she went to bed, and soon after she was down we headed out. It was lovely catching up with friends for a couple of hours and being able to relax, knowing Olivia was safely asleep at home being looked after. We don’t exactly miss out on going out, but we don’t often get the chance to do it together.

All in all, it was a fantastic Saturday, exactly the sort of day that the weekend was invented for!

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The long awaited final day of term, a weeks holiday is upon us finally, but what a strange way to end the week. All the staff were called into a meeting at lunchtime, a rare occasion as its so disruptive to the kids lunchtime, we usually have any important meetings straight after work, so I knew this was going to be significant. Our head is very aware of how fast gossip and rumours can spread, and so took the decision to avoid that by not waiting until the end of the day. It turns out that one of our colleagues hadn’t turned in for work today, and for whatever reason, the head had gone out to visit him, only to find his body at his home and that he’d passed away in his sleep. He was only a few years older than myself. I’d never worked with him directly, but I’d known him for not far off 20 years, he started working at the school before even I joined. It was such a shock that I think most people didn’t even take it in straightaway. A very sad way to end the term, especially those of us there that have been at the school for a number of years, when the team was much smaller and closer. I know he lived alone and I’m not sure if he had much family, but my thoughts are with them. He was one of those nice guys at work that even if you didn’t know him well, you knew that no-one had a bad word to say about him.

We finished the rest of the day, all the while feeling grateful for my own health and all I had at home with my wife and daughter around me. Eventually it was time to go home, and I noticed a few spots of rain on the window, nothing to be too concerned about, so with my waterproof gear on I set off for home on my bike and could never have prepared myself for what happened next… the heavens quite literally opened and I have never seen rain like it, let alone been out in it or even attempt to cycle through it. Just a mere 10 minutes later and the roads were beginning to flood and traffic was slowing down as a result. It felt like an entire days rain had come down in just 10 minutes, and I could not have been any wetter if I’d swam home along the canal! The waterproofs I’d worn were a jacket and hat, and at least they did their job, but from the waist down, it was like I had been wading through a river! I was so glad to be home safely and changed into dry clothes. The mother in law had been looking after Olivia and usually brings her home before I get back and waits, although today she’d stayed at her own house with Olivia not surprisingly, so once I was dry I went to collect her in the car and stopped for a lovely hot cup of tea, which was like elixir from the gods after the soggy and cold ride home!

The evening was a rare night out for myself with a few friends from work, at an indian restaurant, Akbars on the Hagley Road. Known for its lavish interior and looking a bit like a palace from the outside, it gives the impression of high quality, fine cuisine… sadly this couldn’t be much further from the truth. About 10 of us met up and had a pleasant evening together catching up, although it was never going to be a late night. We headed our separate ways about 9:30pm, some heading into town, and some heading home. I was glad to be home in time to see Clare before she headed to bed, and open a couple of beers before I turned in myself to try and get some sleep ahead of tomorrow mornings run.