Monthly Archives: March 2014

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“You may delay, but time will not.”

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Monday morning seems to get harder each week, but its especially hard when you wake up not feeling 100%, and actually getting out of bed feels like the most difficult job of the day! Still, I made it, and on the bike too, although I do need to be getting up to bed pronto as I am desperately trying to stop going to sleep so late, I need to save as much of my energy as I can and late nights do not make things any easier. Tomorrow I have my last training session in the Jujitsu dojo before I get graded for my next belt, and then on Wednesday morning its back on the treadmill! This is going to take some serious will power to get up early enough and not be leaving the house at the last minute. I just hope that whatever germs I have picked up are gone quickly. I promised a friend I’d meet them in the gym and help encourage them to run, and I have several inches around my own waist that say I shouldn’t be letting my friend down too!

Monday didn’t go too badly even though I wasn’t feeling great, work was okay and the cycling wasn’t as tough as I thought it might be, especially as there seemed to be very little breeze about, although it was still a big relief to get home. The wind can have a huge impact on how hard it is to cycle home, as most of it is uphill, and even a slightly windy day can really take it out of your legs if its blowing against you as you pedal uphill! When I got back I was presented with big smiles from Olivia, who seems to be napping less in the last few weeks and it often still up when I get home! Clare had to pop out to the shops and as Olivia seemed tired and yet refused to go down for a nap, I thought I may as well give her a bath and then her final bottle as we weren’t that far away from her bedtime anyway. The bath was a bit of a gamble as she was tired and we had tears, which was a shame as she generally loves bath time. Although at this stage, bath time is usually only a 10 minute affair, so she was dressed and drinking her milk in no time. She was fast asleep before she’d even finished the bottle and was soon up to bed, and with the clocks going forward, this meant it was still light outside even though it was almost 8pm, which gave me a chance to put a few seeds down in the garden before it got dark. I have decided that I want to clear all the bushes from the garden and replace them mostly with flowers, although I will be dedicating some of the garden to growing a few vegetables, and with the exception of what is already growing in the greenhouse, the first thing to actually go in the ground is peas, although these seeds are a little out of date, so I am keeping my fingers crossed on this one, but I still do have another few packets of seeds that are in date if these don’t grow! I’d love to see Olivia eating something fresh we actually grew ourselves in the garden that she can even pick herself, rather than something a few days old and without as much flavour sold in a shop. I really can’t wait for her to get involved and be growing her own vegetables, although I do think we’re probably a little way off that yet!

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89.365 Mothers Day

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”

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Happy mothers day to all the moms reading this!

Mothers day in the UK, and for men like myself who have recently become a dad, and so have a wife or girlfriend celebrating their first ever mothers day, a certain amount of pressure to get the day right. The internet has really helped to make getting the right gifts and cards a whole lot easier, although there is obviously a lot more to the day. I was especially pleased with the card, as it brought a tear to Clare’s eye when she read it this morning, the perfect response! While Clare was showering and doing her hair etc I managed to watch the 2nd F1 race of the year, and due to it being in Malaysia and in a different time zone it was finished by 11am, then it was time for the chores to start! Rather than heading out for the day, we decided to have our mothers over for lunch, and put on a buffet for them. Clare was ordered to put her feet up but insisted on helping to get the food ready, especially as she wanted to serve up her speciality home made pizza, which I have not attempted to make yet! We also had my other sister join us, and her boyfriend showed his face for a little while. We weren’t expecting them when we planned the food, but as it happened there was more than enough to go around in the end, so it didn’t really matter. Everyone enjoyed themselves and no-one went without. I wanted to grab a few photos while we had everyone here, a shot of Clare, Olivia and the two grandmothers and also Olivia with her grandparents, which came out really nice and so is my photo for the day. The weather was almost as warm as yesterday, and still quite pleasant and so allowed us the benefit of taking the photos outside in the garden.
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Ideally I’d have liked a bit more sunshine and have been able to sit out in the garden, but we have been fairly lucky with the weather considering its still March! Clare’s parents stayed for a few hours, and then headed off to visit Clare’s brother, while my family stayed on and sat down to watch a film with us. I knew my mom would like Philomena, and my sister had shown an interest in watching it, so we sat down and watched the film together. Its a lovely, but extremely sad film based on real events and starring one of my favourite actresses Dame Judi Dench who never disappoints in any of her roles! I can’t lie, it really tugged at the heart strings and I had to wipe away a tear or two. Yes, I cry at films… there I said it! Normally a few drinks doesn’t help matters, but I didn’t even have that excuse this afternoon! Although I was particularly exhausted after a rather late night, which wasn’t helped by the clocks going forward for daylight saving time losing me an hour of sleep time. So I really need to be in bed by a sensible time tonight, and as I am committing myself to getting back into the gym this week, I need to make a habit of getting to bed at a decent time! My only barrier to hitting the gym in the morning is dragging myself out of bed on time, the actual exercise doesn’t bother me at all, especially with my headphones and some good tunes, on top of which I am already warmed up from the bike ride in! I am joining a work colleague in the gym, so we can motivate each other to go, and we’re starting wednesday. I have a set goal in weight to lose and I need to start now. One of my targets is this years Tough Mudder, which is a brutal course, and will be made much easier by my being lighter, as will my daily cycle into work!

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“A dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.”

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Okay, a delayed Saturday post, but its here! A busy Saturday meant that I didn’t have time to put my photo up until the early hours of the morning, and literally fell asleep in front of the computer, so gave up, switched it off and went to bed!

Saturday started by me feeling a little sluggish after the Friday night curry and beer, so I wasn’t quite as productive first thing, as I needed to be! It was a beautiful day, the weather was gorgeous, as we seem to have been treated to some very sunny weekends in March, so we got out in the garden and tried to take advantage of the weather by doing a spot of gardening, while Olivia got to enjoy the sunshine and the feel of grass underneath her! I had to stop in the afternoon to head out and visit some friends who I have been lucky to capture many photos of, including their wedding, baby bump, newborn and christening photos. Their little girl turns one next week and so I wanted to get a portrait of her for the occasion for them, whilst dropping off some photos from a previous visit. Thankfully she is not a shy baby, and was full of smiles, so I was able to get in and out quickly to head home and clean the house before my sister and her family headed over for dinner. There was nothing to cook as my sister had already prepared food and brought it over with her. It was a lovely few hours, and they didn’t stay late, which gave me a chance to catch up with my mate at the pub for the last hour before it closed.

I didn’t want to post yet another photo of Olivia today, but this one was just too cute to leave out!

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“Everything in life I share, except of course my teddy bear!”

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Well tonight is going to be a short post as I am off out in a few minutes to meet the other dads from our antenatal group for a few drinks and a curry. It has been a good day, managed to miss the rain and the thunderstorm when I cycled home, and have the weekend ahead of me. Although when I got home and went upstairs to get changed I found this sight on our bed and thought my wife had gone all soft on me. As it turned out, she’d just put them there for Olivia to play with this morning while she did her hair.

A bit of a mad dash to Asda to grab a few beers for the curry house, some cash and a pizza for the wife’s dinner and I’ve just got time to put a shirt on! Phew! A lie in tomorrow morning? I doubt it!

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“The best laid plans of mice and men…”

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That sinking feeling you get when you wake up in the morning and for five seconds think that its Saturday, but then realise…

I got over the fact it was only Thursday, and really enjoyed cycling to and from work today. There was very little wind about making things so much easier on the legs, on top of which the traffic was absolutely crazy, I ‘d have been so late if I’d have sat in it! Whizzing through the traffic (as you can see from yesterdays photo) makes my journey so pain free.

What was even more pain free was some news we had at work today, the big change around in our department that was going to go ahead and unsettle everyone and cause weeks of problems, is no longer happening. I can’t go into it really on here, as you never know who is reading this! But needless to say, our current setup in the classroom is safe for now at least! Normality is restored, whatever normal is!

I came home today to find the scene for todays photo waiting for me, her big beaming smile as I walk through the door is enough to shake off any of the days worries and frustrations. She wouldn’t understand me being in a bad mood, she just wants to see her daddy come home. Bad moods can stay outside, regardless of how much I’ve been cut up on the way home! I think part of the reason we have such a happy, chilled out baby is because thats all she’s seen, surrounded by lots of smiling, happy faces. This stuff has to rub off on them!

It has been a fairly quiet evening for us, we were both tired (and I should be in bed by now!) and not much has been done, although I did managed to sort mothers day presents out and a card for my mom! Tomorrow I need to be on the ball as I am heading out for drinks and curry with the other antenatal dads. I am not aiming to get especially drunk, however I do imagine that it would be best if I get all my typing done before I go out, rather than wait until I get back and suddenly none of you are able to make any sense of what I am writing! I know what I can be like, from drunken texts in the past that never got sent, after I woke up the following morning with my phone in my hand and a bunch of garbled text on the screen that doesn’t even represent words, let alone sentences! The weather forecast for the weekend is looking nice, so I want to be feeling in a fit enough state to be up and in the garden fairly early in the morning. Yes I have all best intentions, but will the reality match? We’ll see!

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“The sound of a car door opening in front of you is similar to the sound of a gun being cocked.”

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How is it already Wednesday evening again? I’m sure it was only just Monday morning! I was back on the bike this morning, after taking the car yesterday because of the rain and my lack of mudguards. When you spend a reasonable amount of money on a road bike, you certainly won’t improve its looks by adding mudguards, but for regular commuting they are an absolute must! Over time I found plenty of excuses to leave the bike at home and drive when I was feeling lazy, but I have now purchased enough clothes to stop most types of weather from preventing me from getting on the bike, and generally a bit of rain and even temperatures down to -3ºc don’t put me off. Recently though, my front mudguard broke and so I removed it. I soon realised that the rain is not really my enemy at all, but the spray from the road is, without a front mudguard I was drenched upon arriving at work!! Now my rear mudguard has broken too, and if it rains I am going to get absolutely soaked! The forecast today was for numerous showers, although thankfully they appeared to be fairly brief and almost went unnoticed, leaving me with a dry ride into and out of work, much to my relief! Finding mudguards either in Halfords or on Amazon that look half decent and don’t cost a small fortune is actually proving quite difficult, as the budget set of mudguards I got from Halfords recently that are supposedly universal don’t actually fit my bike, if only I could find that damn receipt!

So that’s it, half way through the week, and yet again the weekend approaches with three events to look forward to, firstly on the Friday is the Dad’s Night Out, from our antenatal group. The moms, being off work, meet up at least once a fortnight, but the dads don’t get the chance, so we’ve arranged a night to meet up for a bite to eat and a few beers. On Saturday we have one of my sisters coming over for dinner, it has been a while and she hasn’t seen Olivia in a number of months for various reasons, but sometimes you have to put whatever is getting in the way on hold and make time for catching up. Then on Sunday is our first proper mothers day! Sure we celebrated it last year, but it was more of a Mother-To-Be day as our little bundle of joy was still nothing more than a bump. This year we can actually celebrate it properly, and we have our mothers coming over to join us. I’d really love the weather to be half decent so we could actually get out in the garden and get a BBQ on, but its so unpredictable at the moment, the temperature has dropped so significantly that we even saw a flurry of snow this afternoon when I went out into the garden to check on the greenhouse. It was a bit of a surprise, especially after this afternoons rather unexpected hail storm! Crazy weather!! It really means that there is very little chance of a BBQ and so we have to assume its probably not going to happen and just stick with Plan A. I’m still keeping fingers crossed for a decent summer, I just want to make the most of having a back garden now we’re not in the flat any more, and spread out a blanket, lie back and catch a few rays while Olivia plays in the shade. To be fair, Clare with her pastey white skin will also probably be in the shade too, but then she only has to sit too long watching holiday programmes on the tv and she’ll get burnt!!

Oh and the other thing I forgot about this weekend, the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix!! How could I forget? It has been an interesting start to the year with the first race two weeks ago in Australia, the rules have changed, the cars have changed significantly, and it was a rather unexpected podium at the end of the first race. I decided against watching it alone at home as usual, and along with a friend, joined a bunch of other F1 fans at a city centre bar where the race was broadcast live and was watched whilst tucking into breakfast! I quite enjoyed the experience, which was organised by F1 In Pubs and it had quite a turn out even for a 6am start! The wife is questioning why we’re still paying for Sky TV if I am not going to watch the races at home, and while she has a point, we’ll see, I may not want to go out for all the races!

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“DETOX your mind, body, AND your contact list.”

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Some days you just have more to say than others. Today is not one of those days.

I guess its nothing a few decent early nights wouldn’t cure! Its easier said than done sometimes though, committing to a photo a day project is one thing, but sticking to it regardless AND filling in a blog post can often mean me literally running out of time and having to stay up that bit later than I’d like to some nights. I like being busy, I find it satisfying to not be glued to the tv each night literally wasting my life away. There are some nights I could even come home and not have the tv on at all, it just doesn’t bother me. Saturation has literally watered down tv to a pale version of what it once was. This is not the same for the wife, I think if we had to go without a tv she’d flip out and kill someone! If you ask people my age if tv was better when we were kids, they’d all day yes, and why?… because there was so much less of it! It was original, and captured your imagination. I’ll let you into one little secret though, this stuff was good, for no other reason than thats how we remember it, not because it actually was mind blowing stuff, just that we were young, the theme tunes were catchy and we didn’t know any better, and at the time we thought it was cool, but then what did we have to compare it to? There was only three other channels back then, and they had nothing on that was relevant to kids! If you ever do decide to revisit anything, and want to see if you can find it on youtube, prepare to be disappointed! I was, hugely! Most of it actually wasn’t good at all, but at the time I enjoyed it, it made me feel good. My perception of what I was watching back then didn’t quite match up with it the second time around, or is it just because I’m looking at it with the eyes of an adult now, and not the eyes of a child? I mean some of the toys we had back then were the balls, but I wouldn’t want to play with them now. Is that because they were actually rubbish in reality, or is it just because I don’t play with toys any more? Regardless, tv may have advanced, but I’d still rather be doing something more productive with my time. I am also hoping that Olivia’s fascination with the tv will soon end when she’s up on her feet and moving around. Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to ban her from the tv, I dont think a bit of tv time does kids any harm at all, but I would like to get us all outdoors and active when she’s big enough to go for walks with us. I want her to explore the outdoors, get her hands dirty and discover things, watch them grow, be interested in nature. This generation of “console kids” that we seem to be nurturing worries me, they’re missing out on so much!

Anyway, from having nothing to talk about, I found enough. That’s me done for one day though, I’m off to bed!

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Today started out okay, but didn’t end up being the day I expected it to be. Work was one contributing factor, a bit of an up and down day with some unwelcome news right at the very end of the day, but its news that although I don’t like regarding certain changes, I can’t do much about it, so I have to embrace these changes, even if I don’t agree with them. I’m not the boss, and until I am its not really my place to question the logic behind these changes, especially as they were made with more information than I have access to! I did come home to the dinner almost ready and the wife having been busy and productive. One of the things she managed to do was get this sign that was given to us as a gift, up onto Olivia’s door.

This evening wasn’t hugely productive, I managed to get a few more bits into the loft, but I still have much to do around the house, little jobs tidying things up. While I was sorting through and preparing things for the loft I came across some of my dad’s stuff and found a photo where I could instantly see myself. What do you think?
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My wife still says she sees my mom in me, but I’m not so sure. Sadly my dad passed away seven and a half years ago, and to this day I will always regret that I didn’t see more of him. His drinking got in the way of a lot of things, and I let it affect our relationship. Maybe I could have been a bit more mature in my decisions, but I was young and didn’t ever imagine a time when he wouldn’t be there. His brother, my uncle, was someone who I grew up barely knowing, having only ever seeing him a handful of times. We spoke after my dad passed away, although costs over the funeral caused huge friction and he refused to speak to me after that. I’ll be honest… it wasn’t the biggest loss ever, I hadn’t heard from him for the previous 35 years anyway! Its not like this was life changing news. Yes, it was a bit disappointing, I’ll give you that, my dads side of the family is small anyway, and getting smaller. For some reason though, I’m the black sheep, they don’t like me, apart from my one cousin, they’ve never tried to contact me in the last 20 years and thats the way it is. At least I always had my moms side of the family, although even thats not quite the case so much any more, certain events and arguments in the past have meant that we’re just not as close any more as we used to be, nowhere near as close. Families are funny things, and “family” used to mean something different when I was growing up to what it means now. I thought I understood them, I though there was some kind of secret bond, apparently there isn’t. Even going back to my wedding, two of my cousins boycotted the wedding and didn’t turn up, just because their mom fell out with my mom. One of them even went and removed me from facebook shortly after that. Charming!

Anyway, this evening I have been very tired, and it has lent itself to me being somewhat thoughtful about stuff. I’ll get over it though. Sometimes I just need to dwell on the past a bit, maybe a need to just try and work out where it all went wrong, maybe its just so I can be sure I don’t make the same mistakes myself now I am a married man and a father, and its actually my turn to be the family man!

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“Cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey.”

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Another weekend draws to a close sadly, Sunday night arrives again and I sit here reflecting on the last two days. Yeah maybe it sounds a bit deep, just because I have to go back to work in the morning, but having a baby changes the way you see things completely, and the weekends have become so important to me now. During the week I get little time to spend with Olivia, and so I always try to make the most of the two days that I am not at work. This weekend has been really nice, although there are still so many people I would have liked to have seen, but its not always possible in just two days. One thing we did discover this weekend is that Olivia has finally cut her first tooth, you can’t really see it, but you can feel it when she had a chew on your finger!

Today we enjoyed a slow start to the day, I managed to get more more seeds planted now that I have some more seed trays after yesterdays trip to B&Q. I am hoping that me and my friend can get a lot of veg grown on the allotment this year, and giving the seeds a head start in the greenhouse should help to speed the process up a bit, before actually planting them out onto the allotment itself. I have a variety of seeds already in the greenhouse and shooting up, such as tomato, chilli, brussel sprouts, broccoli, pumpkin and cauliflower, and wanted to add some extra onion and carrot seeds as they will be eaten in no time if they succeed and grow well. Lets just hope that we have a few more sunny days this year, a bit more like last year and not so much of the damp 2012! I didn’t really have a resolution for the new year as such, but one of my goals for the year, if you want to compare it to a resolution, was to spend more time on the allotment with Dave. He took over like a trooper last year, and was really understanding about my lack of input with all the work on the new house and the arrival of Olivia, but I still felt guilty and will not be leaving him to it this year. I’m feeling encouraged by the seeds that are shooting at the moment, and can’t wait to plant them out and watch them grow, although I am a little nervous about the broccoli and cauliflower after last years crop were devastated by caterpillars and butterflies last year, and they didn’t even get from the seed tray into the ground! It has been a mild winter and I have already seen several butterflies around, normally this would please me, but not so much this year!

We took a walk round to the in laws house for lunch today, which is always a welcome treat and saves us having to cook! I haven’t seen much of them lately, so we spent a few hours there, and chilled out while Olivia spent some time with her grandparents. It makes it so much nicer knowing we only have a short walk home afterwards too. I did make sure to call my mom today, even though we didn’t manage to make it over there. I know how important a phone call is, just to let someone know that you’re thinking of them and haven’t forgotten them. After we got home I popped out to pick up a bottle of red wine to finish my evening off and we sat down and decided to put something on the tv, although nothing much inspired me so we had a look at what we had recorded on the Sky+ and Clare immediately spotted the documentary ‘Undercover Doctor: Cure Me, I’m Gay’ with Dr Christian Jessen, who I have to admit, I didn’t even realise he was gay until a few weeks ago! It was a fascinating programme and highlights the sheer mind boggling backwards ideas that some people have about homosexuality, talking about things like demons and bad parenting and how they can be ‘cured’ with electric shock or being exorcised. It reminds me of a documentary by Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills a couple of years ago called The Worlds Worst Place To Be Gay where he spent time in Uganda, and essentially put his life on the line for the documentary as the entire country persecutes those who are gay and believe “Homosexuality is just bad behaviour that should not be allowed in our society,”, and Ugandans are still pushing for the death penalty for gay people. Do we actually live in the 21st century? How can people think that this route of reasoning is acceptable?

Another story that caught my attention this morning was about schools in Birmingham that have essentially been taken over by muslim extremists that try to teach all pupils arabic, organises trips to Mecca out of public money, mocks christianity and has banned christmas, to the point that government inspectors Ofsted have downgraded its status from Outstanding to Needs Improvement so that they can essentially boot out the senior management team and board of governors while they try and restore the school to what it should ne. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/10716855/Government-intervenes-at-school-taken-over-by-Muslim-radicals.html

Its hard to believe that this has been going on under our noses and they actually thought that they could get away with it!

Thats it! The world has gone crazy! i think I’ll pour myself another drink!

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“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”

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Saturday lie ins are clearly a thing of the past now we have a little person in the house. Dont get me wrong, I’m totally grateful she sleeps through the night and is such a well behaved baby, but man, what I’d do for a lie in on a Saturday!

Today was a day of visiting, and our first destination was some friends I’ve known for a number of years who have a son with autism, they had invited us over for lunch so we could catch up and chat about the situation of me spending a few hours a week helping them to look after their son. As I work in a special needs school and have experience of working with children with autism, I felt in a good position to be able to offer to help my friends out. They have been allocated some money to pay someone to be a support worker for their son, but were struggling to find anyone. The subject happened to come up over a few drinks on a night out, and they had totally forgot about where I work and what I do. It was a really pleasant afternoon, lunch was delicious and it was nice to spend some time with them as we generally only see them on nights out!

We left there and headed straight over to see Clare’s brother and his wife and their new little baby, Olivia’s new cousin! I remember many happy afternoons playing with my cousins when I was growing up, and I’m really looking forward to seeing Olivia playing with hers. I have two sisters, and only one of them has children, but sadly they are now teenagers and obviously won’t be playing with Olivia, at least not in the same was as a girl the same age would. As for my other sister, will she give Olivia some more cousins anytime soon? Who knows, but it is nice to see the family growing a bit in size. My family have sadly drifted apart over the years, but we used to spend a lot of time together when I was young, and as much as I miss those days, the reality is that they are never coming back! All I can do now is provide Olivia with a chance to see her cousins as often as possible!

After our visiting was done, a quick trip to B&Q to get some bits for the garden and a trip to Asda to pick up dinner and it was time to head home and get Olivia ready for bed. It has been a good Saturday! Time with the family is everything!

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