Monthly Archives: June 2014

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“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

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I can’t believe its Monday again already, I don’t know where the time goes! Its going to be a busy week as well, so the weekend will be here before I know it!

It was good to have our class teacher back from his residential trip and a bonus to know which classes we’l all be in next year, as it often causes some anxiety amongst staff. The day turned out to be a bit of a scorcher at times, although I totally wasn’t expecting this and failed to leave the greenhouse door open, almost killing everything inside. Thankfully my tomato plants survived and everything is doing well. I even got some pumpkin plants in the ground yesterday, so I am quite excited to see how those get on!

I also have a new business going on at home as well, its early days and is going to take some effort to get moving, although I do have some wonderful support. So fingers crossed that starts to bring some money in. I’m sure some of you will be hearing about it soon!

Have a great week everyone!

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What a day! The weekend has flown by and it has been wonderful, as it often is! Time with my two favourite ladies and I feel like I have been quite productive and even learnt something new along the way, I have even discovered the joy of Aloe Vera. Its a bit of a weird one, I grant you that, but I have been introduced to it by a friend and the benefits are immense. So far I am on an Aloe drink, which I won’t harp on about too much, but needless to say, in just a few days it has boosted my energy levels already and I feel fantastic!

Today I was looking forward to both a family BBQ and a business meeting, although sadly they overlapped, so I had to leave the BBQ early. I did manage to grab a couple of birthday before I went though! The weather forecast wasn’t great for today and it was a little cloudy and windy, but it stayed dry and the sun came out eventually, which always makes me happy when people have gone to the effort of putting a BBQ on, as we will be next weekend, so keep your fingers crossed for a sunny weekend for us! After the meeting I came home to a rather messy little daughter who had turned a cheese sandwich into a disaster zone, but she seemed to be enjoying it, so who am I to complain? There was just enough time before her bath for the three of us to head out for a walk while there was still a bit of sunshine in the sky. Poor little Olivia had so much fun with her cousins at the BBQ that she missed a lot of her nap time and was a very tired little lady this evening, so a quick bath and a bottle of milk and she was off to the land of nod. She is coming along leaps and bounds at the moment, and made mommy and daddy really proud this weekend by taking some proper steps while I held her hands. She loves standing up and being on her feet, although it will still be a while before she can do it on her own, but it was great to see those little feet moving and know they we are one step closer to our house being destroyed by tiny hands! Bring on the carnage!

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“Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man’s doing but my own.”

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Todays photo was again, another last minute, clutching at straws, “I’ve got nothing for today” type shot. It’s not that nothing happened today, quite the opposite, but I didn’t really feel like anything grabbed me enough to whip the camera out. Todays photo is somewhat of a technology breakthrough though, for the photography geeks among us who remember buying film for our old pre-digital cameras, they may remember that most shops stocked a choice of ISO 100, 200 or 400 speed film. The ISO100 being the least sensitive to light and needinga longer shutter speed, although producing a higher quality image, while the ISO400 film being the most sensitive and needing less light, also produces a lower quality image due to the grain size in the film. Digital cameras followed this sensitivity trend with their digital sensors, and a similar pattern was reproduced, meaning that ISO100 in a digital camera, like its film counterpart, needed more light but produced a higher quality image than an ISO400 image. But then things moved up a gear when companies brought out camera sensors that were much more sensitive, pushing the ISO up to 1600. The need for light was reduced, but the images were not great quality. Companies wanted to fix this and brought out new software and firmware updates for the cameras to be able to handle the noise on a high ISO shot. Tonights photo was actuallly taken in pretty low light in the living room, and with the ISO set at ISO16000. If you look closely though, you will see the noise in the image, its there and its fairly obvious, but it is worth taking note that the image is still sharp, regardless of quality!

So there’s your photography lesson for tonight!

Anyway, I have taken another self portrait of me, because I guess the next few weeks are about me, looking at my new opportunity and working out the different ways I can attack it and produce something amazing for my family. Then working out how I am going to get other people on board too, although the opportunity should sell itself really. I don’t want to give too much away on here just yet, but I see the future looking bright. Hard work is needed, and the benefits will arrive all in good time!

This afternoon we made it over to see my mother as it is her partners birthday today, the man who is essentially my stepdad, although my mom had sworn never to remarry again! We wanted to drop a card and present off, and let them see Olivia for a few hours as it is difficult for them to make it over to us now. One of my sisters came over too, which was nice to see as she was sorting out a few differences with my mom, and it all ended happy as far as I know. I hate it when families fall out, sometimes it is inevitable and you can’t fight it, other times its simply a case of two people being stubborn and takes one separate person to stick their nose in to try and re-grease the wheels of reasoning and get things moving again. Anyway, it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and definitely beat the alternative of a soggy walk in the rain!

Today was also the start of a new trial, a new product has caught my attention, a drink to help my joints for running, to boost my energy levels and hopefully keep me generally feeling fitter, with Aloe Vera being a major component of the drink, and the more I read about this product, the more I want to use it. It may well tie in with this mornings lie in, courtesy of the wife, but today is the first day in several weeks that I took this drink and find myself feeling great! Usually by this point, my blog is taking 3x as long as it should do because I keep falling asleep, but not today. I feel great and feel pretty confident that I’ll get a great nights sleep too. Lets see how it goes!

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So what is Fridays message? Well today I met with a friend to discuss an opportunity for the future. Don’t get me wrong, my life is great, sure we could do with a few more pennies in the bank, but who couldn’t?! I have before me a chance to really make a difference in my life, and allow me to think about what the future actually means for me, rather than just watch it crawl towards me. For too long I have never really allowed myself to make dreams and have goals, life sometimes teaches you that some goals just aren’t achievable. My friend today, has helped me to change this mindset and believe that I can make the future better. It is going to take some work, and I am not even sure it will allow me the time to blog like I used to. So now I have to ask myself, what do I really want for the future for me and my family?

Before my meeting, today was a fairly standard day at work, although I was generally feeling more relaxed today having seen the weather forecast of heavy downpours and thunder, and opted to drive to work in the car rather than cycle, I just wasn’t in the mood to cycle home in a monsoon, although as it turned out it was dry and warm on the way home, there was even blue sky over me, and I felt a little cheated by it, although I didn’t get stuck in any traffic, which meant I was home in no time and not regretting taking the car too much! I don’t like to take the car very often as using the fuel defeats the object of having a bike and I feel terribly lazy for my lack of cardio workout when I arrive at work! I have to say though, at 4.40pm when I was getting ready to leave, the thought of just jumping into the car and cruising home was very nice indeed and made a lovely Friday treat for me. Once I was home, it was time to get dinner ready for the little lady, before throwing a pizza in the oven for myself, so I could eat it in the car on the way to my meeting.

After my meeting I was feeling inspired and nearly had all that sucked out of me on the way home by “bloody roadworks”!! Over a mile tailback, over an hour trying to to squeeze past the jam where all the cars, buses and lorries were trying to merge down to one lane… and for what? I’m pretty sure a mile of cones and huge tailbacks are not really necessary for two guys in a truck fixing a light on the hard shoulder! I am not even sure why they had to even shut one lane down, let alone two. And yeah sure, I’m all about how important their safety is, but really, that nightmare was totally avoidable! The diesel level was critially low and 40 minutes of stop/start have not helped matters at all! First thing in the morning is a trip to the petrol station to put in some much needed diesel!

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“Nothing is predestined. The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.”

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Tonights photo is a humble Aloe Vera plant, a gift from a friend that was just a small shoot and has thrived with minimal attention. I am hoping that this could symbolise some positive changes for the future, as I have been offered an opportunity with a friend to hopefully create a new business and bring some extra income into the home whilst meeting some great people along the way. Tomorrow I meet up with them to discuss how I am going to move this forward, but watch this space, I am hoping that exciting times lay ahead!

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“What do you mean I’ve got something on my face?”

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Mid week during June means one thing, a day off to look after the little lady whilst we sort our childcare arrangements out, and whilst its going to sting a bit in a few days when I get paid, the time off with her has been wonderful, especially while the sun is out.

Today I had a morning visit from my sister before heading out to visit my mom this afternoon as she can’t get about much due to her knee pain. I know its getting her down a bit, so I hope the docs can do something with it soon, but until they give us any indication its all still a bit of a waiting game. Still, having some company and also a visit from her granddaughter cheered her up a bit. I was on quite a strict schedule today as I had to leave my moms house at a particular time to catch up with another father, one of our antenatal friends who is currently off work on garden leave, but also sadly without wife and daughter today as they are staying with family while the house has some work done. We met up at a pub in Harborne called The Plough, which was a bit of a scruffy joint years ago, and looked like you’d just walked into an old persons living room until you spotted the bar. Now they have transformed it into this amazing place that is not only great to look at, and has been hugely extended, but has great food and beers, as well as being really cool and quirky! We only caught up for an hour today, and so grabbed a hot drink each instead of a beer, and mine came in a proper tea pot with a wooly tea pot cover, a big mug with a biscuit on the side and a mini bottle of milk. Its all about the little touches that makes me love this place! Unfortunately the little lady hadn’t slept enough today and was getting a little fidgety, so we headed off home to grab some dinner before she got too tired to eat. She really loves to feed herself, and so the simple cheese spread sandwich became a bit of a messy affair, promptly followed by a yoghurt just to add to the effect. Oh she’ll love this being printed and hung up on her 18th birthday, I’m sure of it! After a quick bath and bottle she was out for the count, and I took the chance to pop over and see my friends for a couple of hours. Its the sort of house you only visit if you don’t mind getting roped into doing some kind of chore when you’re there, which I inevitably do! Although it was inspiring to end the night discussing gardening and admiring the results of his hard work in his garden. Our garden is a long way from looking like that, but he does have a big head start on us, so I am not too concerned. Ours is still moving forward and the plan is still on track. There is sadly no fast forward with things like this, well not unless you have lots of spare change to throw at a team of gardeners, which we definitely do not have! Its just a matter of hard work, planning and patience!

Work beckons in the morning, I’d better call it a night and head to bed!

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As the clock approaches midnight I find I am stuck for a photo for today, its dark outside and there only so many photos of my daughter I can post on here! Still, I always knew there would be days like this, the trick is to keep going and not give up!

I don’t have a great deal to say about today, it went well apart from my phone and the pesky technology letting me down. One of the most advanced handsets on the market today, and the phone battery dies like an ant under a magnifying glass! I have been turning it off all day to preserve the battery, then as I leave work it drops from 15% to 9%, and then just a few seconds later turns itself off and refuses to come back on until I plug it in! Really Apple? You’re going to do this to me? Those Samsungs are looking more and more tempting at this rate!

I left work and cycled home as fast as I could, partly because I like to challenge myself to see how quick I can make the journey, and partly because I can’t wait to be home with my daughter. I know the in-laws like to get back after spending the whole day with her, so I don’t like to keep them waiting just because I left work late or took my time getting home! I came up with a new food item for her, instead of just cheese on toast, today I made for her dinner, PIZZATOAST! Similar to cheese on toast but with a tomato paste base, some sliced ham and a cheesy and italian herb topping! Sadly it was about as well received as a delivery of Mein Kampf in a jewish bookstore, but I think that either her teeth were playing up again, or she was tired, or maybe both. I’ll try her with that recipe again, I thought it was delicious!

Right, bed for me, I’m shattered!

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“The thought of going to sleep forever was delicious. I was so very tired.”

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It was a real warm one today, so I was glad to have riden to work in my cycling tshirt rather than the usual jersey I wear. Our class teacher is still away on residential this week, but even though he is on the other side of the world I still managed to hook up with him for a chat on skype via the magic of the internet this afternoon, which was cool. The internet is so clever, it really is!

I arrived home this afternoon, a very sweaty mess, but my little lady was up and very happy to see daddy walk in the door, even if he was a little red in the face, and smelling a bit funky! After 10 minutes of cooling down in front of the fan, it was time to start getting the dinner read for Olivia, and also for the wife and me. While it was cooking we went outside the front of the house to watch for mommy walking down the street on her way home, its lovely to see her face light up in that moment of recognition when she works out who the figure walking towards her is!

My only real job for tonight was in the garden again, planting out some new flowers that I had grown from seed, only to find that half a dozen had been ruined by a neighbours cat who had just wandered into the garden, used my new flower bed as a toilet then kicked the soil everywhere, taking out a bunch of flowers that are now no longer useful, and only fit for the compost bin! So just a warning cat owners, what in my garden is mine… that includes your cat! When it comes into my garden next time and becomes my cat I shall rename it, and I will call it “Fair Game”… because that’s exactly what it will be if it tries that stunt again! It will also get to meet and play with my new cat friend, “brick”. It may be worth mentioning that Brick doesn’t really like cats much though. So, just to clarify and state the obvious here, if you’re cat doesn’t come into my garden again, then we won’t have this problem!

Still, the flowerbed is restored now, more flowers have been put down, and extra seeds planted and put in the greenhouse, ready for planting out in a few weeks, as I didn’t know how many I’d need. Dave also popped over to drop off the keys for the allotment, in case I get chance to go over while he is away on holiday. The chances are slim, I’ll admit, but I’ll give it a go if I find time! I took todays photo after watering all the flowers I had put down in the flower bed, and I was quite impressed considering how late it was. It stayed unusually light this evening and didn’t really start to go dark until way after 10pm! I only managed to get the shot by pushing the ISO up again, and risking the quality of the image, but it came out okay in the end!

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“Life is more fun if you play games.”

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I sometimes really feel like I am struggling for inspiration with the second year of the 365 project, yet here we are almost half way through the year already! My beautiful daughter, however, never lets me down when I need a little inspiration, she’s the perfect model, and I have to remind myself that although I committed myself to a year of photos that were intended to push me in some areas, they were also meant to be a record of days and events to help me remember the journey that this year has taken me on. So I won’t always be taking clever trick photos, sometimes they’ll just be a snapshot of my day.

This morning I woke up feeling a little fragile, a few beers with my friend last night shouldn’t have left me feeling like I was, and I know full well that I didn’t drink enough water yesterday, especially given how warm the weather has been lately, so I think my headache today is actually more down to dehydration and a lack of sleep than a beer induced hangover. We decided to spend the day at home as a family instead of going anywhere, and I had plans to get a bit of gardening done. My tomatoes are fast outgrowing the greenhouse, and while I wanted to get some on the allotment, I figured that an empty flower bed would be a good home for a few of them, as allotment time is limited, its not always easy to get over there and there is so much weeding to be done that we have to prioritise jobs. I have also planted some basil outdoors. It was one of the pots from the supermarket that they sell for cooking that you’re supposed to leave in the kitchen window, and yet they cram so many in that they can’t get enough nutrients from the tiny bit of soil they’re in and they frequently die within a week or two. So I decided to separate them and transplant them into pots, let them grow and establish some proper roots and then today decided to plant them outside. They look pretty when they flower, they smell nice and we’ll have basil leaves on tap when we want them! I managed to sat down and enjoy the F1 Austrian Grand Prix today, a great race at a track that hasn’t been on the F1 calendar in over 10 years, so with none of the drivers having driven on it previously, it was set to be an unpredictable race. Once it was over I went outside to finish the gardening and Clare brought Olivia outside so they could sit with me under the gazebo and enjoy the warm weather. It was a lovely afternoon and even stayed warm when the clouds rolled over. A few weeks ago we bought Olivia a paddling pool with the intention of filling it with balls and using it indoors as a ball pool, but it seemed a shame to let it go to waste today, and so out it came, and while Clare was putting Olivia in her swimsuit, I was filling up the pool, feeling like a real dad. I say that because it seems like a real “dad” thing to be doing and sometimes I still have to pinch myself that I am a father. Maybe its because I have spent so long working with children that I am just used to giving them back at the end of the day, maybe its because I have such a fantastic wife who does so much that I sometimes wonder if I am actually doing enough to help, or maybe its just because we have such a golden baby that sleeps all nice and smiles and laughs all day and makes parenting a really easy job for us. We genuinely haven’t been through months and months of sleepless nights or have a baby that cries all day for no apparent reason. In fact we often feel a little guilty when our parent friends ask us how we’re getting on, and try to play down the fact that it has been pretty much a walk in the park so far. Parents who have much older children seem to take great delight in reminding us of how the worst is still yet to come… yeah, thanks for that guys, we know!

Well, as Sunday night has rolled around again, that sad feeling that the weekend is over starts to set in again, but a recent quote posted on my sisters facebook page brought a good point to mind: “A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.” which has got me thinking about the week ahead and being grateful for what I have and the time I get to spend as a family with my two favourite ladies! I am very lucky to have both of them in my life and not a day goes by that I don’t fully appreciate it!

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“You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going.”

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The sun shone this morning, although with enough cloud cover to stop things from getting too hot, and I wanted to get up early to try and to get some flowers that I had grown from seed. The plan is to get the garden looking good in time for Olivia’s first birthday, where we are hoping to have friends and family over for a bbq to celebrate. Its slow, but we’re getting there! The plan is in place and we’re following it.

Sadly this afternoons visit was cancelled due to potential tonsillitis at our friends house. I was looking forward to seeing my old work friend Amy and her family, even though Clare wasn’t going to be with us as I was dropping her into town to meet friends for afternoon tea and cocktails. Before we jumped in the car, I managed to grab this shot of Olivia in the garden. I personally think it the most grown up picture of her that we have, and I can see the baby side of her falling away and the child side of her replacing it. Its a time to celebrate and be sad both at the same time. It was a tricky shot to get as she is so inquisitive and was fascinated by the grass, as there is she is usually sat on something like a blanket if she is outdoors and she doesn’t get to feel it. Calling her name was very hit and miss, and it came down to silly noises to attract her attention, the neighbours must have thought I was either drunk or losing it!

While Clare was in town with friends I managed to get our new gazebo up, just to make sure all the parts were there and so I could do a little gardening with Olivia in some shade, although I didn’t quite get that far as it was approaching her dinner time. She was getting tired as she hadn’t napped much earlier, but she stayed awake long enough to go out in the car again and pick Clare up from town. Clare doesn’t get out a great deal, and would like to have stayed out longer, but with funds not really allowing for a taxi, and me only able to pick her up before Olivia goes to bed, we really left it as late as we could, but the little lady dictates, and she can only stay up so late.

Still, with clare enjoying some treats this afternoon, I think its only fair I head out for a couple of beers this evening!

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