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Today would appear to be Day 2 of our little lady being all out of sorts. She is most definitely not herself again, which could posssibly be down to several things, but is most likely going to be because of teething. She has been really tired again, even after naps, putting up zero resistance to going down when it was actually nap time, she has been off her food as well, and has barely eaten all day as a result. The eating thing hasn’t especially concerned me though, firstly its very rare she’s like this, plus she has plenty of supplies to last her, she’s not exactly skin and bone and she’s generally a pretty good eater anyway, so when she is hungry again I’m pretty sure she’ll make up for it! The important thing is that she has been drinking, and when she hasn’t been all sleepy, she has actually been in a brilliant mood, and very lively!

I’d promised my mom that I would go over today and pick her up so she could get out of the house for a bit and see the work I’d been doing in our garden, combined with how nice the new fence made the garden look and at the same time, she could enjoy spending some time with Olivia. My younger sister also appeared along with her boyfriend for a few hours, and surprised us with this gift…
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How cool is that?!

I hate to complain about the weather, especially on a blog, but it would certainly seem like August is broken today, it kinda forgot what season it was supposed to be and decided to give autumn a try, way before we were expecting it! Pretty much as soon as I dragged myself out of bed this morning and went downstairs to get Olivia her breakfast, and I was cold. I can’t lie, I even considered putting the heating on for a little while, but then realise IT WAS AUGUST, and refused! It didn’t improve much all morning either, so when Olivia went down for her first nap of the day, I was straight into a nice hot shower, which helped a little to warm my cold hands and feet. Once I was dressed, I thought “maybe its just the house that is cold and its actually warmer outside?” and so off I trotted to inspect the garden and water the greenhouse plants as I normally do, but no, it was just as cold. Consequently, while my mom and sister were over, we didn’t spend much time in the garden at all, which was a shame. It was lovely to have them over and Olivia was in her element with all the attention being focused on her, although the inevitable afternoon nap beckoned and she seemed especially tired again, and was asleep barely two minutes after being taken upstairs! After the family left, it was time for madams dinner, which to be honest, was a total waste of time. She couldn’t have been any less interested. So after some protesting we decided to go for a walk, and as Clare was due home, we went off to meet her at the bus stop. It had stopped raining, and wasn’t quite as cold by this point, so it was good to get outside and get some fresh air. Clare was very happy to see us and after we got home, a very tired little Olivia had lots of cuddles with us both, before skipping bathtime and had a very early night.

As Wednesday evening had rolled around again, I was off to visit my friends. It seems so normal now, to meet up with my friends on a weekly basis, which I love doing as so many of us these days don’t see our friends properly for weeks or even months at a time, some even longer than that! That word “busy” seems to allow us to get away without interacting with each other properly, or for not making much effort, apparently we’re all “busy” these days! In this world of social media, we kind of allow ourselves to maintain a low-level friendship by simply clicking “like” on someone’s facebook activity, or sending someone a happy birthday message once we get the reminder, but it is no replacement for actually being there and having your friends around you. Even friends we haven’t seen in 20 years since school, who we should be over the moon at being able to catch up with again, but yet we rarely even find the time (should that be ‘find the time’ or ‘make the effort’?) to send them a private message! This evening was a perfect example for me of how it should be, okay so the Wednesday night thing started many years ago with us hitting the cheap mid-week drinks offers in town when we were a bit younger, and now has turned into something a bit more civilised these days, and yes it can’t be denied that as we move towards 40 our lives have changed significantly, to the point where we can actually sit down together and enjoy the merits of looking after a good garden, and the finer points of bread making machines! Its the sort of common interests you don’t really get to talk about, or even find out about on facebook. Yes, I am quite happy to share photos of my daughter as she grows up, or a recent party I went to, or a holiday with all of my facebook friends, but there has to be a distinction between the online world and real life. I am guilty myself of perhaps spending a little too long online, although so many people will just waste the same amount of time in front of the tv literally letting their brains turn to mush, at least I am in some way interacting with people. Even so, my life recently has begun to change as I embrace my new business and start to reconnect with people properly again, and I look forward to every single meeting with them, being able to catch up on the past and look forward to the future! Life is great, and I don’t intend on wasting it!

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Its nice to start the day with a plan, knowing what you’re doing and when you need to be there. To me, it feels like such a waste when you have a day off and you sit around for half of it trying out work out what you’re going to do with whats going to be left of it by the time you get moving! I was going out today to meet a friend and knew I had an important parcel being delivered, although the delivery service gave me a text message update last night, which allowed me the option to reply and tell the driver to leave the parcel in the porch if I wasn’t there, which meant I could head on out without any worry of missing it, and having to go to some barren, poorly signposted, hard to find, far corner of an industrial estate to collect the parcel from some grumpy, discontented worker, which is usually the case. The parcel, as suspected was a recently ordered wedding album that I’d created for our friends, which had finally arrived, but will sadly have to wait a little while with us until the couple return from their holiday. I did have a quick quality check of it, as expected, to ensure there were no mistakes and it was ready for the couple to collect.

I had arranged to head out today, to meet my old school friend Richard, and his little daughter who is just a couple of months younger than Olivia. We started the day with the usual morning routine after Olivia was up, which was all fairly normal, with Olivia getting up at her regular time, having her breakfast, her bottle and her first nap, as she always does. She can sleep for quite a while in the morning, all very normal, but upon waking just before lunch was just plain grumpy today. Being this grumpy after just waking up from a 90 minute nap was quite unusual, so much so that I even tried to put her down for another nap before lunch, but with no success. I couldn’t seem to do anything to cheer her up, and so gave up as I was running out of time to get everything ready to get in the car. I was baffled, but can only put it down to teething, which does seem to generate some odd behaviour, and she hasn’t had any new teeth through for a few weeks now, so we will soon see! We made it out and got to the park just before Richard turned up with his daughter, and we decided to start with a nice slow amble around the park, taking in some of the sights, as it was another beautiful sunny day and the park is always so well kept, it puts my garden to shame! Once we had got round to the Tearoom we stopped off for a hot drink and a snack. Although, while it is still August, it has recently been starting to feel a lot more like autumn, especially overnight, but thankfully the sun had decided to come out today, and so we sat outside, and while it was a little cool in the shade, we found a nice seat in the sun. It wasn’t exactly tropical, and definitely didn’t feel like it was going to cause the little ones any harm if they didn’t have their factor 50 on, and so as I can’t turn down the chance to let a few rays hit my skin it seemed like a good place to stay for a while! It was around this time that the two little girls both seemed to be getting a bit grumpy, and once drinks were finished, off we set assuming a long slow walk meant they’d both soon end up asleep, which is often the case when nap time overlaps into pushchair time. One of them was soon in the land of nod, but sadly it wasn’t Olivia, she just started crying and crying, usually she will settle herself and go to sleep in the pushchair… although apparently not today. I had to eventually give in and pick up, as she’d clearly gone way, way beyond tired by this point and was getting too upset, clearly not going to settle herself, and needed to be rocked to sleep, which isn’t ideal, but eventually worked! We set off again to find somewhere to sit for a while, whilst Olivia slept in my arms, and just enjoyed a chance to sit and chat for a while, as these afternoon walks in the park will become less frequent once I’m back to work! I had originally been asked by Richard to take some photos of his little girl, but with a snotty cold being the feature of the day we decided to postpone it until next week. We eventually said goodbye and headed off home, although as it was still nice and Olivia was now awake, I pulled into a local park closer to home to give her a bit of time on the swings, which she loves. It wasn’t long before we were home, where my parcel was waiting for me in the porch, a beautiful new wedding album for our friends. It only seems like five minutes ago that they were getting married and an overdue, heavily pregnant Clare was bouncing around on the dance floor trying to encourage our little madam to get a move on. Clearly she took no notice and didn’t appear for another 10 days or so!

The evening was a bit of a disaster, as originally one of my sisters was supposed to be over for dinner, who I then had to put off after realising I’d double booked myself with a meeting with a friend. Ironically the friend postponed the meeting and I couldn’t get hold of my sister again! Ah well, what can you do?

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The wife was only working a half day today, its kinda like a normal Monday, but with a silver lining, that’s how I like to look at it. By the time Olivia had eaten her breakfast and had her morning snooze, it was almost time for Clare to head home. I had just enough time to put Olivia in the back of the car and head out for some supplies, although I should probably have been less cocky and put some diesel in the car before I set out! In 19 years of driving I have never actually run out of fuel, but I can honestly day that today has been the closest I’ve ever come, those last 5 miles on the motorway, I can’t lie, I had a sweat on! After stopping of for a splash of diesel, we got home having just been beaten by the wife who had arrived a few minutes before us and had started sorting out Olivia’s lunch ready for her to eat when we got in. She was home early and being super efficient with lunch as we had an appointment at Olivia’s new nursery for whats known as a settling in session, where the staff get to know her, ask us questions, and she gets used to her new surroundings. It went well, she was happy and smiling and generally winning all the staff over, although it doesnt usually take much effort anyway with that cheeky little grin of hers! Straight after the nursery session we had plans to visit one of our antenatal friends who’d arranged to put on a paddling pool party for the little ones, which sounded like an awesome idea… although sadly the british weather had something to say about that, and recent temperatures of 24ºc seemed like a distant memory as the forecast for the next days is showers bringing the temperature down to about 17-18ºc, not very exciting, especially for August! With the weather being a bit of a let down today, the party was postponed, so after nursery we got home and stayed home. Dinner for Olivia was quick and easy, the leftovers from lunch time as she hadn’t eaten most of her lunch anyway, and it seemed daft throwing it away. She had most of the tuna pasta from earlier, but didn’t eat much else. Cause for concern? We don’t think so, she just has days where she is less hungry than others, today was one of them, and there is no point in forcing the food down her! While Clare had to go out and count the church collection, I tool Olivia up to have her bath and get ready for bed. A final bottle of milk and she is ready for the land of nod. What a lovely day it has been!

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What’s not to love about a Sunday? A nice lie in, or as close as it gets when you have a toddler! We have a usual morning routine of getting Olivia up and bringing her in to our room for cuddles in bed with the two of us while we work up the motivation to get up and sort breakfast for madam. As I woke up today I could hear that familiar depressing sound of rain outside, but thankfully by the time we were finally up and about I looked out of the window again to see blue sky start to appear, and the sun casting itself across the garden, which was fantastic for me to see the perfect combination of growing conditions for all the plants and flowers I’ve recently put down. Rain followed by sunshine… those flowers are going to thrive, for sure! It must definitely be an age thing, I can’t lie, I’m definitely becoming far too proud of my efforts in the garden now and get far too excited when I know its going to rain after a long hot spell, especially as we’re on a water meter which doesn’t make watering the garden cheap, and I’m committed to being successful with my growing this year! Is this really what my weekends have become? Have me and the wife subconsciously adopted our stereotypically sexist roles of me in the garden and her in the kitchen? More importantly, will I actually be thanked for these gardening efforts when Olivia’s birthday finally rolls around and we have all the birthday guests outdoors in a beautiful looking garden, or will I just be told off for not doing enough around the house?

Just after lunch I had a text from my good friend Alan to remind me he was coming to visit, which I was very grateful for, as I had totally forgot he said he was going to visit. He arrived a short while later and we had a good catch up, geeked out a bit over some more expensive technology, and then I shared some information with him about the exciting business opportunity, which he’s gone away to think about. During this, the in-laws turned up to take Clare and Olivia up to see family for the afternoon, where I would be joining them after I have met another friend and his fiancé to discuss their wedding on Friday and all their photography needs for the day. The venue is set to be a rather unusual place, the locally known wonder that is the Crooked House Inn. Its name and distinctive appearance are the result of 19th century mining subsidence. One side of the building is now approximately four feet lower than the other. The building’s leaning walls give rise to some optical illusions as with a gravity hill. These include glasses slowly sliding across ‘level’ tables and a marble appearing to roll uphill. It was lovely being sat outside in the sun this afternoon discussing the wedding, and we had a quick look around inside before I left, where the couple then got on to sitting down with the staff from the venue to discuss the other details of the day. I set my satnav for the new address that Clare had sent to my phone in a text message and headed over to see the family. I was only there for about 45 minutes, which was a shame, but we had to get little missy home, as she was so tired, and starting to get a little cranky! I’d managed to grab some food while I got the chance as some had been saved for me. It came as no surprise that once we set off for home, Olivia was soon asleep in the back of the car, looking as cute as ever on her front facing seat! With a quick stop for a bottle of red wine on the way home and it was soon up to bed for Olivia, she is such a good girl and has behaved so well today. We really are so lucky.

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These late posts are becoming a bit of a habit recently, but I’m now close to 2/3 of the way through the year, which is encouraging. The weekend was started with another run with my friend Eve who is training for her first ever half marathon, having only run a 10K race once before. On our training runs we have discussed the prospect of me signing up for my fifth half marathon, and I have considered it, but I am still put off after last years race and feeling as awful as I did halfway round it. I am still not sure what made me suffer so much on the day, as I had eaten reasonably sensibly and although the training was perhaps a little insufficient, I’d still done some! I have to bear in mind that these training runs have been no less than 6 miles and have been so easy for me, as well as the Tough Mudder I completed in July which didn’t present too much of a challenge to my stamina. I know I could probably run a great race, and I still may sign up yet, put I probably won’t chase people for charity donations much this year if I do it, as people don’t like to be harassed, and this isn’t exactly the first time I’ll have been begging for donations! Although I will make it known that, if I do run it, I’ll be open to donations, as the amount of good causes you see people running for on their vests and t-shirts is a little overwhelming! You don’t feel like you are running alone, or that no-one has noticed you, as there is so much team spirit and support from everyone, from the other runners to the massive amount of road side encouragement from all the people that line the streets to watch and shout encouragement. You really feel like you a part of something really big, something special. Some Birmingham residents have been known to complain at the road closures and inconvenience caused by it, and I can see how difficult it does make things, but at the end of the day, it makes an absolute fortune for a lot of very worthy charities, and some that I didn’t even know existed! Most of the roads are open again by late afternoon, and it is only once a year. So keep complaining people, just show everyone how little you care for those suffering or in need, while I feel genuinely content and satisfied that I have done what I can to make some money and be a part of such an amazing fund raising event!

I completed the mornings run with Eve and headed for a shower, as I had a friend coming round after lunch time to find out more about the new business. Clare decided to keep Olivia out of the way, and took her to visit nanny and grandad for a little while. We really are so lucky having them within walking distance, it makes life so much easier. After the meeting I stayed at home to get a few bits done, and then headed round to grab a cup of tea and walk back with Clare and Olivia. As it was dinner time, we got Olivia some cheese on toast, which she loves, especially as she can feed herself, and then I made a start on our dinner tonight, homemade chilli con carne with fresh home grown chillies from the garden! What beats getting all creative in the kitchen? Well it has to be getting all creative with some great music on the iPod, and I’d picked an old favourite from my college days, Pure Cult! Great to sing along to, and I felt 17 years old all over again!

The chilli was delicious, even if I do say so myself, I think I did a pretty good job, and with a nice balance of heat too, as I have to be very careful to make sure its not too hot for Clare. Well… I thought I had the heat right anyway, to me it seemed a little tame, so I thought it was okay. I didn’t mind that it was a bit tame as it tasted good, but apparently Clare was feeling the heat a bit too much, and as she was feeling a little fragile anyway, sadly my efforts were perhaps not as appreciated as they could have been. A bit disappointing, as I don’t like to let the wife down, especially when it comes to cooking a nice dinner, but at least she had some chocolate to look forward to afterwards to compensate! We did manage to sit down and watch a film together as well, which we haven’t done for a little while as I now have a 30 day trial of the Amazon Instant video, what used to be lovefilm, and Clare even managed to stay awake for it, a rare treat! I’d arranged to pop out to the pub with Dave for a few late beers after the film finished, and it came as no huge surprise, knowing Dave for as long as I have, that he was yet again late. Not a bad thing on this particular evening, as our film finished a bit later than I’d imagined anyway. It was good to get out though, as I don’t get to spend many evenings in the pub, even though both Dave and the pub are less than five minutes walk away!

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The end of the week and the weekend is finally here. Not quite so relevant at the moment as I have been off work on holiday for a number of weeks now, but its good to know that the wife has a couple of days at home with both me and Olivia, which is fantastic. Time together as a family is what its all about for me, and if anyone wanted to vote for a three day weekend, I’d be the first to put my name down!

So what to do with a toddler on a Friday? I knew the day could be a bit of a challenge when Olivia went back down for her morning nap and woke up way too early. She was grumpy straight away, and by the time I’d brushed her teeth (all 6 of them) and dressed her, I knew she’d be be going straight back to bed. Eventually she went back off and after a short nap and lunch I received a perfectly timed text from one of the antenatal moms who was also off work today asking if Olivia would like a play date with her little girl, and so with nothing planned for the afternoon, it wasn’t long before we were in the car and on our way! Olivia and Amber are two very pretty little girls with only a couple of weeks between them, and it is lovely watching them learn to play together and grow up together, and thinking about them being friends in the future. We’ve already seen the first year flash by, and some real characters have started to develop! Amber has a sand and water table in the garden, which the two of them enjoyed playing with, and it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Before we’d gone out, I had left our old mattress on the drive as I’d originally called the council to remove it, but they put me through to a charity who take them away for free, and obviously put them to good use as long as they are clean and in good condition. They gave me a three hour window in which they said they’d turn up, but also said as long as I left it outside and it didn’t rain, they’d still collect it even if I wasn’t in. So I was obviously a little frustrated to say the least when I came home to find it was still there! I’d rather have paid the small fee and had the council take it away, than have it sat around getting in the way. Still, if someone is hard up and in need of it, I won’t be put off, apparently there are other charities out there who are after this kind of thing!

Friday night I’d been looking forward to as we were having friends round for a take away. They are lucky to have parents who visit every Friday evening to see their grandson and are always happy to stay and baby sit for a few hours, which made arrangements very simple for us. Nothing beats a Friday evening in with good company, food that you haven’t had to cook, and a few drinks! With them living so close, I just don’t know why we don’t do this more often!

As for todays photo, I took this just before our evening guests arrived… and any one who has been following this blog for any length of time may remember that I took an identical photo last year, on the same tree. It was obviously the first sign that autumn is around the corner, and I just can’t believe that a) it has been a year already and b) the leaves are starting to turn so soon as its only August and it seems like five minutes since this tree was covered in blossom! Have we really seen the back of summer already? I am still hoping that September will bring us a bit of sunshine, and ripen all the tomatoes and pumpkins we have growing!

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So my original plan of getting out and doing something nice today didn’t go very as I’d hoped. I’d thought about catching up with a friend, but after an unanswered phone call to them, followed up by a text that got no response, I had to assume they were busy and that I’d need to make other plans. I know I left it all a bit last minute and can’t always rely on people answering their phone on the first ring, but the waiting for a reply (as I was confident they’d get back to me) meant I wasted a good chunk of the afternoon where Olivia is actually awake! I’d already spoken to the wife about dropping Olivia with her nan, so that she could also see her cousins today while she was being looked after, and after a quick call I talk a walk round to the in-laws house. Its a good job they do only live literally round the corner as the blue sky suddenly turned black and the heavens opened upon us. It wasn’t just raining, it was literally pouring! We were only yards away from the in-laws house, so my pace quickened and we were soon inside! When the rain stopped, I left Olivia there for a bit and headed home to try and get a few bits done. It was time for a little more gardening, as I’d already done some that morning, but had to make sure our green garden waste bin was at least full before they came to empty it in the morning! Its only collected every other week, so I don’t like to waste the opportunity, as we have a lot to get rid of. The three flower beds in the back garden are really starting to take shape now, my hard work and commitment is starting to pay off, so it is time to turn to the top of the garden and begin the process of clearing it so that we can get some decking put down and eventually, once we’ve got an outdoor table & chairs, be able to take advantage of the afternoon sun! Oh yes, it sounds good already! The sun, a beer, some flip flops (its all about the flip flops!) and a good read. I’d love to think that September holds some even better weather for us, as we always expect it in August, which is typically a wet month, and so often don’t the sunshine we’d been hoping and waiting for..