Monthly Archives: January 2015

Does life actually begin at 40? Really??

Life changes when you become a parent, and you never know by how much until you actually get there. Its different for everyone, and I have since found that for us, routines have become a huge part of our life. These can be both a good thing and a bad thing, although on the whole they’re mostly good. Being able to anticipate, and plan and prepare things helps us to bring up our daughter the best we can. With our routines in place, more often than not we will just plod on through our daily life, getting on with things as we always do, but occasionally things may happen that make you stop for a moment and begin to think, and you may start to think about life, about how it has changed recently, about where its come from and where its going. This has happened to me recently, and I think it all started with a recent succesion of 40th birthdays of my friends that I have been celebrating in the last few months. Some people don’t get especially excited by birthdays once they’re over the age of 21, some people don’t get excited at all, although there are some people who treat each one like a six year old on christmas day! Some people, on the other hand, get very sensitive about their age, and I’d like to think I’ve never really been one of those people. I didn’t do a great deal for my 21st, a small garden party with a bbq and a few family and friends, and then my 30th pretty much passed without any great deal of ceremony, in fact for that paricular birthday my ex at the time didn’t even get me a present, and in fact I think I was supposed to be grateful that I even got a card! I wasn’t especially concerned with the thought of turning 30, I had no problem saying goodbye to my 20s, in fact I almost felt a bit grown up at this point, like people should actually start taking me seriously because I was a bona fide adult once I became 30, right?! Soon into my 30s and I thankfully became single again and left the crazy ex behind, and although I’d spent a lot of time in relationships in my 20s the thought of being single didn’t bother me at all, it was quite refreshing, but eventually with each passing birthday, I started to become vaguely aware of the problem of being unmarried and without children as I sailed further away from 30 and more in the direction of 40. Not exactly a huge concern at the 30 end of the scale, but with each year that went by, I started to think about it now and again. As luck would have it, it wasn’t long before I met Clare, my soul mate, the girl I just knew was right for me, we got married a couple of years later and eventually along came our beautiful daughter Olivia. In our new house, with our new family, life was suddenly wonderful, I had everything, I finally felt settled and happy, and I still am, although in recent months, I have suddenly started becoming aware that 40 is not far away and fast approaching. Next year sees me counting down the last few days of my 30s, and it kinda got me thinking about life and stuff. I have spoke to several of my friends who have recently turned 40, and on the whole they generally don’t seem too concerned about it, although for some strange reason I am, just a little bit, and that thought is starting to niggle at me now and again. I couldn’t even tell you why, but I know I am starting to contemplate what I’ve done with all that time, almost like maybe I should have achieved so much more in life, or something? Maybe I just haven’t been looking the bigger picture, maybe I have to finally accept that I am a different person now and that the 18 year old in me that still wants to party and drink all night until the sun comes up has finally gone. I have realised that life has reached a corner, not an end, it isn’t suddenly all over at 40 at all, in fact quite the opposite, life is quite literally just beginning, its just a very different kind of life… its a whole new chapter, and its life as a parent! My compass has been suddenly reset and my direction has shifted. I’m entering a new phase, and its going to take a bit of getting used to, but you’d have thought that all the grey hairs that have been making an appearance in the last few years would have prepared me better for that!

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Still, I have to put it all this behind me and remember that age really is just a number, and 40 means nothing at all, tomorrow is another day, and this little lady is making every minute of every day all worthwhile! We seem to have done a good job bringing her up so far (I think… is it too early to tell?), and I think the only real thing bothering me is the fact that I wanted to have two children and to have had them before I turned 40.. which now isn’t very far away at all, and as we’re still trying to do the maths to work out how we can afford nursery fees for two, it looks like No.2 may not be making an appearance any time soon! My Job, as much as I love it, and as much as it provides me with good working hours and great holidays, doesn’t exactly pay a fortune, so the financial side of having a second child becomes a bit of a concern, and not something we can just overlook! Still, I am sure we’ll work something out. We managed to do okay the first time around.

I have actually been reading a number of blogs recently on parenting, and how others have coped and how different people deal with the various scenarios that present themselves when you have a mini human running aroung the house. What really occurred to me was how both myself and Clare have coped with everything so far, both preparing for parenthood and since Olivia’s arrival. We have both been very calm, rational, logical, and sensible, and mist of all we’ve talked and agreed on everything. When we found out that we were expecting, I guess like most people, we had that moment of “Arrgghh! What next? What do we do now?”, and I think the temptation is to prepare, and prepare like there is going to be some kind of war where shops will no longer exist. Buy everything, buy the best, and buy lots of it!! Its no wonder that some people can see having a baby as such an expensive time. For us this really wasn’t the case. Like the wedding, we tried to plan it out and prepare in advance, having a look at what we wanted versus what we actually needed. A quick walk around Babies R Us soon showed us that we could easily go crazy and max out a credit card if we actually wanted to get a bit reckless and decide to “throw caution tomthe wind because our baby is worth it”… but logic reminded us that we weren’t brought up with such luxuries as children, and our little girl was rather unlikely to thank us, pat us on the back or high five us for spending wasting so much money on “things” when all people were actually concerned about was how cute she looked!

We looked at bedroom furniture sets and found that, if momey was no object, we could easily spend upwards of £600 or more on a cot/cupboard/drawers combo, some of them were not far off £1000, and yes they were very nice bedroom sets, but we didn’t have that kind of money. On top of which, the wardrobes we toddler size… and last thing I heard, they don’t stay toddler size forever, so if we got a toddler size wardrobe, at some point it would need replacing! Instead we opted for a standard adult wardrobe from Argos for £200, a cotbed to last her until she is 5 years old, and a set of drawers also from Argos for £45. Total spent about £360, which is a far cry from the bedroom sets in Babies R Us, and on top of which the extra large wardrobe meant we also had the bonus of extra space for some of our clothes too!! We debated buying a brand new buggy, and did have some that we being offered to us from friends, and this is the one area we did splash out a little where we could have actually saved, but we took a walk around the new Kiddicare store in Merry Hill and found a bargain, neutral colours with a mickey mouse logo (as we still didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl), it was a complete travel kit turning from a pram, into a car seat, and then to a buggy as she got older. It was all we were going to need from birth up until she no longer needed to be pushed about. With £100 off in a sale, we took it there and then! There were some prams and buggies that only had the one function, not three like ours, and were going from anything around £600 up to £1000 or more, and we got ours for the budget price of £300! We didn’t bother wasting money on clothes or nappies, as so many were given to us, in fact for the first six months of her life we didnt have to buy her any clothes wnd the only clothing I’d bought her myself was the coat that she came out of hospital in when she was newborn! When we did finally start buying nappies we looked at the popular and most obvious choice of Pampers, but then caught onto the fact that many people had found the award winning Aldi nappies, which we’d heard so many good things about, for around a third of the price of Pampers. We tried them, they worked, we saved a small fortune, and Olivia is still wearing them now, 17 months on!

Its fair to say, that while Clare was on maternity leave, this new little person in our lives wasn’t actually costing us a great deal after all, pretty much just over £600 was all we had to lay out, and half of that was optional. We even borrowed the moses basket that she slept in rather than buy a new one, and little by little added to the bits she needed as she grew. We didn’t do it all on the cheap, but we had pretty much got everything we needed for the price that some people would have paid for just a buggy alone. Even though we could have no doubt done it cheaper, it didn’t feel like we’d thrown money away just to look good or impress people. If we didn’t have the income we did, I know we could have borrowed so much more from our friends, as so many of them kindly offered to lend or give us things.

Its fair to say that baby number two, whenever he or she should make an appearance will not cause us any concern, especially if there is one of us off work to look after them! We will have to cross that bridge at some point, but I guess I’d better sign up for some medical tests or something in the mean time and start saving!

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The battle never ends

Here we are again on Sunday night, thinking about getting ready for the week ahead. Trying to make sure that we don’t end up in bed too late, as has become a life long habit for myself, to the point I have now made it a new years resolution for myself. I don’t always make resolutions each year, some years I don’t even think about it at all, but sometimes you have to make promises to yourself, and January 1st is when people always think about making these plans. I can’t even remember what previous resolutions I’ve made over the years, but I have given up with the typical “Must lose a stone” or “Must join a gym and go three times a week”. Quite honestly, and in fact only this morning on my weekend run with my friends Rob were we discussing it, I have come to accept that the weight battle is a life long one. As I head towards 40 like the Titanic heading towards the iceberg, I know that I am never going to shift all the weight I want to, hit my ideal weight and just stay there. Lets face facts, I just loooooove my food, no I mean really love it, and I can’t deny it, I am lazy, these two things don’t go well together. Yeah I know I exercise, I cycle to work, run and do my weekly jujitsu lessons, and I have the allotment with my friend Dave, but deep down I am lazy, all these things take a massive amount of will power on my part, in fact some weekends the only reason I run is because I am running with someone else. The thought of putting my feet up on a lazy Sunday afternoon and not going anywhere, with a pizza one side of me, and several beers on the other and just not moving makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, although this is never going to happen, not now anyway! But it is this fatal combination of loving my food far too much, and actually not moving enough to burn those calories off that has put me where I am now, which is needing to fight to get back to a weight where I am comfortable again. It might sound like I do a lot of exercise, but I have consumed far more than I needed to, especially leading up to christmas where I just become an eating machine! So with this battle going on and on like groundhog day, as I work hard to lose pound after pound until I shift that stone, only to then put it back on again five times faster (as I have done this year over christmas!), it seems pointless to make resolutions about losing weight and exercising. Sure, maybe I could just make a resolution about eating healthy, cutting out the fat and the snacking, and putting more salad on my plate… but then if you’re thinking that, you clearly don’t know me! I’m more likely to walk into Buckingham palace and talk the queen into washing my car, than I am to cut out some of my favourite foods! I’m not saying I am never going to be slim, not at all, I’m just saying that if I do get there eventually, it may not stay that way for very long! My weight is constantly yo-yoing, which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing, as its a sign that weight is actually coming off, as for so many years previously there was no yo-yo, the weight was just going up and up and up. At least now I am doing something about it, and its a good job I enjoy all the cycling and the running that I do, as they really are the only reason I haven’t given in, continued to expand on the sofa and called in the tv cameras for a My Fat Life programme, as these sort of shows seem to be so popular at the moment! Anyway, I digress, that really wasn’t the point of this post, I’d originally started by saying that I desperately need to get into a new habit of going to bed a bit earlier. For as long as I can remember I have been a night owl, and I don’t even know when it started, its a terrible bad habit, so hard to break. Just lately I have forgotten all about the fact I’d made a resolution about this, and have been heading to bed later and later, although my daughter has reminded of the need to actually try and get my head down a bit earlier so that I have at least had a couple of hours sleep for when she inevitably wakes up in the middle of the night, as she has done for so many weeks now. I think we’ve gone through the worst of it, and we seem to have more nights where she is actually sleeping through again, although its still not every night yet, and I don’t think it will be for a while!

One thing I managed to do this weekend, was to try and keep us fairly commitment free so that we could do things impromptu and freestyle it a bit. We’ve been busy in recent weeks catching up with friends, and the wife made the request that we just don’t book anything in to see people in case we wanted to catch up with family or just head out for a walk, and so that’s exactly what we did. We had my mom and stepdad over along with one of my sisters and her other half on Saturday, I even got some free cans of monster out of it, they know me too well! Thanks to my sister and her boyfriend for those! They all spent the afternoon with us and disappeared before dinner time. I’d love to have had them stay for dinner, but we hadn’t shopped to feed six people and the chilli we’d planned to make would never have stretched that far with what we’d got! The chilli takes a while to cook, my secret recipe cannot be rushed, and because I had to wait for everyone to leave, I was late starting it, and so consequently we were late eating… but I am giving myself a solid 9 out of 10 for this one, it was absolutely delicious, even if I do say so myself!! Of course my cooking does drive the wife a bit mad, as I am one of those messy cooks, the kitchen looks like we’ve been broken into by the time I’ve finished, but my argument is that I am focused on the food, not the cleaning. I can clean when I have finished eating. You don’t walk into The Ivy in London and find the head chef with a wooden spoon in one hand and a dusting cloth in the other, do you!? I know she’ll be reading this and rolling her eyes, I’ll never convince her! Once dinner was finally devoured, it was time to head off to the local to meet a couple of friends for a couple of hours. I did come home from the pub and made the same mistake I make every single time, I totally failed to think the very plain and rational thought of “Right, that was a good night, lets get to bed”… oh nooo, as always my brain said to me “there’s a whole bottle of vodka in that kitchen, and lets face it you can’t drink it on a monday night now can you?! Go and pour yourself one, there’s bound to be something good on tv!”. It comes as little surprise that, like most nights when I go to the pub and come back and do this… I fell asleep in front of the tv yet again! Will I ever learn?? I am going to have to start leaving “don’t do it” post-it notes, before I go out, on anything that I may think about drinking when I get back! It was actually Olivia waking up that woke me up at 3am (see previous mention of getting to bed prior to Olivia getting up in the night!), and once she was settled I could finally get myself to bed, and try to get a few hours in before I was up again for my sunday morning run!

The sunday morning alarm sounded like a train crash ploughing through the house. In reality it was just my phone beeping, but I was not even feeling like getting up and going to the toilet, let alone running 10km around the reservoir in the cold! Still, that’s why I have a running partner, as I knew he’d be there waiting and there was no way I couldn’t go! I didn’t feel great at all, but knew that even though I’d been to the pub and also had a couple of drinks at home, that this wasn’t hangover aches and pains, this was pesky little person germs brought home from the nursery! Great for developing Olivia’s immune system before she hits school, but I could do without the aches and the sore throat and the stiff neck! We totally failed to hit our six mile mark and only managed 4.5 miles instead. Still not bad for a Sunday morning, and I am glad we did it, but you have to listen to your body and know when to stop. Mine was telling me that I’d done enough, and so after stopping off at the butchers on the way home to pick up sausages for lunch, I got home and ran myself a nice hot bath! Its not often I actually have a bath, as we’re on a water meter, so we both always have showers, but sometimes you just need a good, long, hot soak!

Once we’d got lunch out of the way, we decided to get a bit of fresh air and head out to the park for a walk and to give Olivia a go on the swings, as she loves them so much, just like her mommy did when she was little…

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Oh apparently mommy STILL does love the swings!

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Well, this post totally wasn’t what I intended to talk about, but I’ll save that for another day! Its now bed time, and I’d promised myself I’d get to bed at a sensible time. I need to get some rest to try and fight off these germs that my darling daughter has so kindly passed on, bless her! It’s been a lovely weekend though, spent with my two favourite ladies, and just goes to remind me how lucky I am. Its just the simple things that keep me happy, and just those very simple things that so many miss out on. I have a job, a house, a beautiful wife and an amazing daughter that has become the centre of my world, and if I believed in a God I’d be thanking him every day for these simple things!

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Right then Monday morning, bring it on and give me your worst!!!

Football, it’s a bit like marmite really!

Hi, my name is Andrew, I am male, and I don’t like football!

There… I said it.

I have absolutely zero interest, much to the delight of my wife, even the world cup only gets me mildly interested, and even then only on a patriotic level. I’ve always thought that the sport had lost its way a long time ago. In my opinion, the likes of Birmingham City should actually be Birmingham showing off its finest talent, not a bunch of the most expensive players from all four corners of the planet. How is that reflective of what Birmingham has to offer? I know I won’t be alone when it comes to the great debate of how much these players earn either, I think we’re all of the opinion that they earn far, far too much! The sport has become a business now, and from an outsiders point of view, to me this makes it look almost soulless.

As a young boy there is no avoiding getting involved with it, you will end up playing the game with friends at some point no matter how useless you are! Soon your friends may begin to notice your obvious lack of talent and stop asking you to be on their team quite so frequently, or you may just take it upon yourself to avoid certain obvious opportunities on the playground to be asked, especially when you get tired of trying to kick the ball and miss, or worse still fire it onto a roof so no-one can play any more, and you can feel about 20 pairs of eyes burning down on you!

Eventually we grow up, and some people continue playing football as a way to keep fit doing something they enjoy, whereas others may just sit at home watching it on the tv, maybe at the pub, or the more enthusiastic followers may even buy a season ticket and go and watch a match if they have nothing better to do with their hard earned cash than donate it to these overpaid football players. It still never fails to amaze me though, how emotional people become about the game, and how every football supporter is suddenly an absolute expert on their team, on the poor decisions of their manager, and how the players could have done so much better! Its this banter that makes a non-football fan almost feel like they are alone in a foreign country where nobody speaks your language!

I really started to notice this at work recently, where I am surrounded by colleagues who love the sport, they watch it all the time, go to matches, and a handful of them even play it before work each day, and when I listen to some of them talking, it seems to be all they talk about. I do sometimes wonder what other conversations they actually have and how you strike up a conversation with them if it’s not football related. When I’m talking to someone, sometimes I can sense when that inevitable question is coming, and I can see that all too common look of bewilderment and confusion on their face when they ask me what team I support, only for me to reply with “none of them… football’s not my thing”. The idea that I’d rather watch Formula 1 than 22 over paid drama queens kick a ball about has people baffled, it clearly the answer they weren’t expecting! To which their response is invariably always “oh…” followed by a pause while their brain tries to work out what else to talk about as an alternative.

I sometimes think it would be nice to have had a bit more of an interest in football, as it really does seem to exclude you from a significant percentage of workplace conversations, but I just can’t seem to generate any excitement about it at all. I wonder why others are so passionate and I quite simply couldn’t care less, and when I look back can only deduce that this all comes from my upbringing, I don’t remember my dad, or either of my grandads being that interested in football. I don’t remember it ever being on the tv much, if at all. In fact the only time it really featured on the tv in our house was when my stepdad used to watch the final results coming in on a Saturday afternoon, even though we never actually watched any of the matches. Even the kids I played with on our estate never used to really be into it either, and so I just grew up without it in my life.

To the regular ready (if I have any besides the wife!) this may all seem like a somewhat irrelevant post, and I guess in a way it is, I’m sure no-one is actually reading this for my thoughts on football but its kind of led me to thinking about the wife and myself, and how what we are doing now will affect Olivia when she’s older, the kind of things we probably don’t even think about. She is approaching a very susceptible age where she will constantly be learning, and is going to literally be taking everything in around her, all she can see and here, and I am becoming conscious of what we’re saying and doing around her, such as not using our phones all the time in front of her, not over-reacting when she falls, the kind of language we use in front of her, trying not to be grumpy even when we’re tired (because she’s had one or both of us up numerous times during the night) and various other scenarios. There are no doubt a gazillion books out there with many different opinions on what we should be doing (maybe I should write one myself?!), but we’ve just winged it so far, trying to be relaxed and using a common sense and practical approach, and it seems to have worked for us so far. My only little concern is the favouritism our little girl has for daddy, sometimes mommy just isn’t good enough! It does make me feel a little guilty when she’ll only come to me, although thankfully she seems to be showing a bit less of this behaviour lately. It does sometimes help though, that I can seem to settle her quickly in the middle of the night if she has woken up, and can then send the wife back off to bed as she seems to need more sleep than me. Its nothing magical that I am doing, I certainly have no more parenting skills than the wife, but there is still that moment when Olivia is being held by her mother and then spots me and doesn’t want mommy any more. Its not like we actually encourage it, but we do give in to it sometimes, as I am kinda figuring that this may be a temporary thing anyway. Eventually, as she gets older, I am sure that Olivia will come to see that there are some things that daddy is just no good at, and only a mommy can help with! Or have we set something in motion that may never change? Do little girls never outgrow cuddles from their daddy?

Talking about growing up, this last week we have seen some of the biggest changes. The walking, as I mentioned in the last post, is significant, and she has almost totally given up on crawling over the last few days, she’s just too cool for that shizzle now, she’s a big girl don’t you know! The weekend was the big turning point for this, and she has just not stopped walking since. The other change, which has been slower and more subtle, is the one of feeding herself. We have occasionally struggled over the last months to feed Olivia on some days, and still do… but on some of those difficult days, we have found that all she wanted to do was feed herself. This was great when it was finger foods, we could just leave her to it, regardless of how long it took or how cold the food got, but the likes of pasta and other foods with a sauce are a different matter, and we had to be prepared for a major clean up operation if we let her have a go with any of these foods. Recently this has moved up a gear, and she is loving the cutlery, not only feeding herself with a fork, but also using a spoon to feed herself yoghurt whilst holding the pot at the same time!

So what’s next? What big changes lie ahead, and how will she surprise us next? This parenting game is fun and a total nightmare, all at the same time! Its no wonder the grey in my hair is rapidly accelerating and replacing all the coloured stuff!

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For the love of the weekend…

So here we are on Sunday nights blog post, and I have to say that I am slightly missing the daily blog posts, although I don’t miss the time it took to write them all and the late nights when I’d left it to the very last minute, for whatever reason, especially in the second half of December where posts seemed to be rolling over onto the next day on a fairly regular basis!
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This weekend was set to be a fairly busy one, catching up with friends, and it started with Olivia’s godparents Kat & Andy coming to visit for lunch on Saturday. Their youngest is only a couple of months behind Olivia, and although they weren’t playing together a whole lot this weekend, as they’re still a little young for that, I’m looking forward to seeing them play together as they grow up.

For lunch we decided to make a delicious home made soup, carrot and coriander, always a favourite in our house, so we knew it would be great for our guests, especially as lunch had to be a vegetarian dish. I’d also put the bread machine on the previous night so that we’d got a nice fresh loaf of bread to go with the soup. I was even lucky enough to have Andy donate a bottle of JD honey, thanking us for getting the takeaway when they were last here, as he’d received a few over christmas and was planning on staying dry for January and February, and very kind and much appreciated gesture. It has certainly found a good home here. Shortly after they left and headed home, we had another visitor, our friend Tracy and her little boy Oliver. This was an unplanned visit as they dropped in on the way home whilst going past our house. Its lovely when people just drop by, and its great to still be in touch with Tracy, as I first met her back in 2000 when we were working behind a bar together. I spent many years working behind various bars in my late teens and into my twenties, and met a lot of people along the way, some were great people that I just lost touch with, others were plain idiots and aren’t missed in the slightest. In all the years and all the bars I worked in, I am not in touch with many people from back then. In fact, there are only two really, and the other person I seem to be having less and less contact with, although ironically they live less than a mile from us. Tracy is in fact the only person from that era that I am regularly in touch with. I started to see a lot more of her after I met Clare and the two of them just clicked, and we have enjoyed many dinners together since with Tracy and her husband. Those evening meals and the bottles of wine that went with them have now been replaced with afternoon visits and lunch instead since the arrival of Oliver and Olivia. Life has indeed changed for us, new chapters keep starting all the time.

I originally thought that becoming a father was the only real new chapter I would see for a while, but then as things progress you begin to see more and more new chapters presenting themselves. Some are small brief chapters that are easily overlooked, some are huge, and the biggest one for us so far has been this week… Olivia is now full on walking. I don’t mean a few steps here and a few steps there before dropping to the floor and then  crawling again, like we’ve had for most of December and January up to now, but proper actual full on walking. She has even been making the choice to walk over the easier option of crawling, which was always her preferred method of travel as it was so much faster for her. Life has definitely moved up a gear. She also has another new trick now, the stair gate, where previously if we’d left it open, she’d go and close it… oh, but not now, no now its an invite to climb all the way up the stairs, regardless of whether anyone is there to watch!

That evening we decided that after a rather healthy lunch, we could allow ourselves to tuck into a pizza, have a few drinks, and watch a bit of Derren Brown on the Sky+. We’re both big Derren Brown fans, and Clare had even brought me a ticket to see him live for a previous birthday. Sadly an old Saturday night tradition had reared its ugly head again, and I was destined to be watching Derren on my own, as Clare’s glass of wine had kicked in and rendered her totally fit for bed! This used to be a fairly regular occurence, that somehow just seemed to disappear. We’d even managed to sit down and enjoy Thor on the Friday night, with Clare staying awake the whole way through it. Hmm, Chris Hemsworth with his shirt off Vs a scrawny gay man… its no wonder she was awake on the Friday and not the Saturday! Still, I stayed up to watch it all the same, and when it was over, I fought the urge to have a few more drinks and find something else to watch, as I have always tended to in the past. No, now I have become sensible. Firstly I know that there is a good chance I could get woken up by Olivia during the night, and secondly I was due to go running on the Sunday. Running 10km, in the cold, at 9am on a Sunday morning, takes some real determination, its not so bad when you know you have to head out as you’re meeting someone there, but it takes some real willpower when you get a text message from your running partner just 30 minutes before you’re due to meet and run, saying that its all off as they’re stuck at home with stomach problems. That’s when you find out how determined you really are, when its so cold that the ground is frozen over and you’re a bit tired, yet you still go out and put those miles behind you anyway! I did it last week, 10k in 57 minutes, and I did it again this weekend, 10k in 56 minutes!!

Straight after my run I was into the shower and ready for visitors as we had my friend Mille coming round with her son Noah, and Noah’s dad in tow. During the week it had been Millie’s birthday, so we baked her a lovely chocolate birthday cake. Well, I say “we” but in fact it was all Clare. I was all prepared to do it myself, but on mentioning it to Clare, she was quite excited about getting her food mixer out and doing some baking! Clare had been busy while I was out for my run, finishing the decorating of the cake, and it was a fairly epic cake to say the least. When I said to Clare, let’s make a chocolatey one, she delivered, and it was epic! If you didn’t like chocolate, then this was not the cake for you!

We had a nice afternoon with them, and I put forward the idea of going out for walk in a the park. With Warley woods such a short hop away in the car, we were there in no time. It almost wasn’t worth driving, but with Millie following us there in her car, and time no longer on our side, we decided that we had to take the car. Ironically the sun had been shining through the living room window, blinding everyone one for the second day in a row, closing the curtains was our only option… that was until we made the decision to head out to the park for a walk, where it started raining. Raining! It had been sunny all afternoon! Still, we weren’t going to let it ruin our fun, and we carried on with our walk anyway. We put Olivia on her trike, and Noah was on his scooter, and it’s fair to say that there were no complaints from the two little ones as we wheeled them around the park and woods.

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The one thing this photo says to me is that we do NOT have a little baby living in our house any more… we now have a little girl! The term toddler is undoubtedly, fully appropriate. The whole “is she a toddler or is she still a baby” debate is completely null and void! Yet it all seems to have happened so fast, and just when did our baby get replaced by this beautiful little girl? And then I get to thinking, what will she look like in another 12 months time? Sure, 16 months ago I felt ready to have a baby, the requirements are fairly simple… don’t break them and make sure you keep them alive! That bit wasn’t too hard! I’m not sure i’m quite ready to be a parent though, making decisions and implementing behaviour strategies, dealing with tantrums and accepting the inevitable fact that I am going to have to be some kind of role model at some point!

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And so that was the weekend, very sociable, catching up with lots of friends and their little ones, and i think its safe to say at we made the most of our weekend without making life too stressful for ourselves. The wife did bring up the fact that we have been doing a lot at the weekend lately however, and that maybe we should just have a bit of time for the family, and be able to do things as and when we please. She’s right, there has been a lot going on, especially over christmas, but i think subconciously I’ve actually made it that way, the post-christmas come down always make January feel a bit miserable. What is there to look forward to in January? Everyone is off the booze, everyone is earing salad, everyone is obsessed with the gym, its frequently cold and wet outside… the one thing we can do is see our friends, and so I decided to make the most of that! But now we do need to make a bit of time just for ourselves, for days out and spur of the moment decisions! i think the weekends are about to start getting a bit busier anyway, as I am going to start becoming a support worker for my friends autistic son, its just a couple of hours, but it will be in the middle of the day, and then we have to remember that it will soon be allotment season again. I guess in reality its always allotment season, there is always something to do over there, although it has been dependant on Dave being available at the same time as me for us both ti get over there. Lets see if we can make 2015 a better growing season!

Living La Dolce Vita: Vibrant, Colorful Photos of Italy in the 1980s

A fantastic look at Italy in the 80s. Such simple photography, yet each photo taken with intention. It makes me slightly sad that travel has changed and I will never experience a place like this in a time when it is so undiluted and pure, free of the commercial side of tourism, and just being itself.

TIME

Italy has been through so much history that anything you say about the land and its people is doomed to repeat what has been said at least once before. And what may no longer be true was once true—and may be true one day again. But if there is a perennial aspect of Italy, it is the pursuit of la dolce vita, the sweet life of pleasure that the director Federico Fellini embodied with both sensuality and irony in his 1960 classic of the same name. The photographer Charles Traub alludes to Fellini in his collection of photographs from Italy in the 1980s, Dolce Via—the Sweet Way. Indeed, the Trevi Fountain in Rome, where the actress Anita Ekberg famously cavorted in the movie, is the backdrop of a number of Traub’s images. But there is something else Dolce Via shares with La Dolce Vita—not quite Fellini-esque but nevertheless…

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One small step for babykind…

That wind is a-howling, its pretty nasty outside, and although its starting to get a bit late and the wife is complaining that I should be putting the laptop down and going to bed, I at least want to make a start on my mid-week blog. I have even made a small change tonight, in that I am actually sat at the table, instead of cross legged on the sofa, and the tv is off, so hopefully I will get a bit of a better flow on my typing and won’t need to stay up for quite as long. Although, depending on how this goes, I may not finish it all tonight, but I do at the very least want to make a start on it.

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So if the title of todays post isn’t quite obvious enough, my story is that this week Olivia has taken a huge leap forward with her walking, finally. We were never really concerned about it as such, it was always going to happen, we were just a little disappointed she hadn’t started it a bit sooner. Her development is fine, she’s 16 months old and that’s a perfectly normal age for a baby to start walking at, some babies start sooner, some start later… but I can’t lie and pretend that we weren’t feeling a little competitive with other parents! Its not the other antenatal babies we were concerned about, Olivia was the last born out of that group, they were always going to be walking before her! No, more recently she has had a new cousin, a few months younger, and the race is quite literally on! On top of which, our little god son is also a few months behind, but catching up fast (sorry Andy!) and we can’t have our little lady being shamed while she sits blissfully unaware in front of the tv, watching Peppa Pig and shrugging her shoulders at us with her thumb in her mouth, oblivious to the fact that this is a race we just HAVE to win!! We’ve never really had a competitive streak in us before, and we’ve always been fairly relaxed… stuff just happens when it happens, we can’t change it, so why worry about it? But this walking thing has just got us gripping the edge of our seats in anticipation, and she’s been teasing us with it since mid December when she first took those first independent steps. There have been numerous occasions since that first episode where she has taken a few steps here and a few steps there, but this week she has seemed to gain a whole lot of confidence, and has even taken to a few wobbly steps out of choice, instead of being promoted by us, in favour of the much faster option of crawling. So although the slower method of getting around initially, it looks like she has seen the potential and long term benefits of persisting with being on two feet! For us, it has been fantastic, and as much as it saddens us to see our little baby disappear, the excitement of new developments and all these changes as our little girl grows up, fills our hearts with joy!

We have also began to detect new words now! For a long time there has been lots of “mama” and “gaga/dada”, although we weren’t convinced these were actual words, more just sounds she was making. For a little while now we have definitely had a very clear and distinct first word, Olivia has totally got to grips with the word “up” in terms of being picked up. She will throw her arms up and shout “up” at us, and will even understand when we tell her “up” if we want to pick her up and take her somewhere. More recently we seem to have started using the word “ta” to say thank you for something. I did have to explain this one to someone at work though, when I said the word “ta” they just looked blankly at me, having clearly never heard this before. I wondered if maybe it was just a Birmingham thing, or do other parents use this in the early stages, as its easy for the babies to say? Either way, we are now working on the word “again” as we think we have heard the early sound of it when she wants more of something. Its much like the early stages of “up” and “ta” where we weren’t quite sure at first, but they seem to have developed into much clearer words now, so we’re hoping that we will soon have more words on the way.

It really has been a lovely day for our little lady today, she is sleeping so much better and has been eating much better lately (we think only recently off her food because of teething) and has been in a fantastic mood.

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and as soon as I took her upstairs to get something, she headed straight for the bathroom and demanded a bath! I have encouraged her communication by reacting to pointing, so that she knows how to request things even before the words have come, and she made it quite clear by heading to the bathroom that she wanted to bring tomorrows bath night forward, as soon as I took her away from the bathroom and downstairs we had floods of tears! She’d already had her tea, ours wasn’t ready yet, we had plenty of time before she had to go to bed, so why not… lets go run that bath!!
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For 16 months now, we have bathed and bathed her and have managed to avoid the inevitable poo-in-the-bath moment that no parent looks forward to… 16 months!!… until this week where we’ve had it, not just for the first time, but for the second time too!! Consequently that brought this evenings bath time to an abrupt end, and although she wasn’t happy about it, and often moans when she is getting dressed, tonight we had virtually no fuss, and our little energy bomb was showing no signs of tiredness, even as bedtime was knocking on the door! Still, from experience we knew better, this little lady is like an battery, and she’ll keep going until she’s empty, and then she falls off the proverbial cliff. You need to be ready for this time, too much fussing, changing her, putting pyjamas on, trying to brush teeth… oh, she’s not happy about it! So we were ready, we let her play and walk, and walk and play, then we decided that although she didn’t look tired, it was milk time, swiftly followed by bed as soon as that thumb went in her mouth! We had no fuss, no tears and the little lady was asleep just a few minutes after we put her down. It was perfection, to the point we almost high-fived each other! It hasn’t always been this easy, December was a rough month, teething, combined with a temperature, and numerous, almost ongoing cough and colds, meant many nights of being woken up for anything from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. This thankfully seems to have swung itself back around now, where being woken up in the night is actually becoming fairly infrequent again. I’m fairly certain we will have more nights ahead of us where we will have to roll out of bed at 4am, but those smiles and hugs make it so less painful, and almost a pleasure in some strange sense! We really have got the best baby ever!!

Note to self: must stop calling her “baby” at some point… especially before she gets to 18 years old!!

To be a dad…

Todays photo from Sundays 10km solo run around the reservoir taking a much improved 57 minutes.

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If there is one thing that changes the way you see life, its becoming a parent. Its something I tend to reflect on from time to time, about how my life, perspectives and priorities have changed. Thinking about how important that little lady has suddenly become to me, and trying to work out at which moment the realisation sank in that there was now nothing on the planet more important than my daughter.

I thought maybe it would happen when I found out Clare was pregnant, but it didn’t. Clare was very much my number one, she was the other half of me, she made me complete. I felt very protective of her, and as much as I wanted to feel protective about the baby I knew she was carrying, it was no more than a bump at this point, the idea of a baby was simply that, just an idea. They were just words. I couldn’t imagine my life being any differs, although I knew it would be, but I couldn’t visualise it. I thought maybe some kind of bond would develop as the pregnancy went on, but it didn’t. Shouldn’t I be feeling something at least before she was born? I was starting to feel slightly guilty about it, this was my child I was thinking about, but still my focus was on Clare, she was the most important thing to me.

It was when she was actually born and placed in my arms for the very first time, I nearly went into an emotional melt down! I could feel straight away that life had suddenly become very different for me, but I couldn’t describe how. It actually felt like I was in some kind of dream, or even like I was ridiculously drunk, either way, it just didn’t feel real. I loved my wife, she was my number one… but suddenly a nurse had thrust this little thing in to my arms that began to challenge all those thoughts, and totally overwhelming my logic. How could one tiny little thing suddenly stop my wife from being my number one any more? In the days and weeks that followed, it all started to become much clearer. My emotions went from the saucepan that was boiling over back to the simmering saucepan, as having a third person around the house started to feel normal. Looking back I don’t remember the defining moment when the centre of my universe shifted, but at 7:35am on the 5th of September 2013, approximately 60 seconds after she had landed in my arms, Olivia meant more to me than life itself.

I had always wondered about what it would be like to be a parent. In my 20s and early 30s, I had friends who had kids and listened to them talk about their life and their children, and I thought about my own life, and the things I was doing without kids. Back then I was free, I did what I wanted, when I wanted, my money was my own, staying out late for parties or going on holiday had no implications, there was only the two of us to consider, and sleeping in at the weekend… well, that was a basic human right, wasn’t it?! I guess I am not the only person who felt that all their fun and freedom was threatened by the needs of a tiny person invading their life and demanding an unlimited supply of attention.

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I sometimes tried to imagine my life with a child, perhaps even more so as I turned 30 and age started to become a consideration, and I just couldn’t. I simply could not visualise how different things would actually be, and I couldn’t understand how my life could supposedly be better when so much of my “freedom” was gone. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love kids, but how was something so restrictive going to improve my life? The holidays would be gone, the nights out… well I could just forget those, right? Besides, who would want to miss out on sleeping through the night and Sunday morning lie-ins?

Still, I knew that all these silly little concerns were trivial, they were the immature thoughts of a much younger me who wasn’t ready for children back then, and they meant absolutely nothing once I’d met Clare, I knew she was the one for me, someone I could actually settle down with, and have a fantastic future with. Eventually I knew I was ready, and so when the subject of children came up between us and we talked about it properly, I was actually quite excited about it all. By this point so many of my friends already had kids, and I realised that life didn’t actually end, the nights out and holidays still happened, I knew it was finally time for my own.

Life did change drastically for me, as did my mindset as soon as Olivia arrived and suddenly I had become a dad. I held her in my arms and instantly felt a magical bond, that connection I’d been waiting for. This wasn’t just a new chapter in my life, this was volume 2, it was a whole new book! I knew that I was holding the most valuable thing I’d ever seen or touched, and suddenly I was prepared to do anything for her, and it became quickly clear to me that my sole purpose in life was now to protect her and help her learn and grow. Now, 16 months on, have things changed? Yes, of course they have, the little baby that lay on her back, stared at the ceiling and kicked her legs, playing with the toys that hung above her… well, she became a little person. The baby is gone, the term toddler now fully applies and she really doesn’t like a baby any more. In fact, depending on what she’s wearing, she looks like a proper little girl, and it melts our hearts. To see our little baby become a little lady makes us so proud, yet so sad, as it all seems to be happening so fast. People warned me that the time just slips away, literally disappears in front of us, and it really does! I think some of my facebook friends and some people that follow this have felt it too, as her journey has been fairly well documented in photographs. Having the skills and the equipment to capture the journey like I have has meant a lot to me, and I am so glad that she will have some wonderful memories to look back on!

In other news, recently this little boy turned one year old…
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… our god son has caught up with Olivia in having an age in years and not just months any more, and so we were off to his first birthday party.
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It was a lovely afternoon, and always good to see our friends Kat & Andrew, and who can’t resist tucking into a bit of party food?! We soon realised as the afternoon went on, that there is a downside to having a visible tableful of tasty goodies such as crisps, biscuits, bread and sweets, in that after having some Olivia then refused anything with any colour or nutrition in it. No grapes, tomatoes, peppers or celery, which was a bit disappointing as this was technically serving as lunch for her. In reality it wasn’t going to hurt much, we could still do her a proper dinner for her when we got home, and we already know that she eats well during the week. She’s at nursery for two days a week, and always eats a variety of meals there, and the other three days she is with her grandmother who usually does her a fairly healthy lunch! Generally our little girl eats reasonably well, I just don’t want her growing up to be as fussy as I was as a child. It took me years to get around to trying certain foods and actually enjoy piling the veg onto my plate! Now things are different, and while I confess to not being much of a fan of seafood, I’ll pretty much give most other things a go! I just hope I can make our daughter a little more open minded than I was as a child.

Its a crazy, crazy world…

I want to start this post by saying that I do not want to get into a big religious debate, this blog is, and always has been a place for me to voice my thoughts.

I am compelled to write about the horrific attacks in Paris against journalists who dared to do their job and practise their right to freedom of speech.

Having spent a lot of the evening looking at the various debates that have been created on facebook, as a result of peoples reactions to what has happened, I am feeling compelled to try and put together some of my own thoughts. But I’d like to start out by saying that I am not biased, I am not even religious… not at all, not one bit. I am all about the science of things, evolution, Charles Darwin, things having a logical explanation, and theories being proven, not about somebodys imaginary friend. I have my own thoughts on religion, and while I don’t necessarily thing that they are a good thing, I am not going to judge those who follow them. For some people religion is all they have, and lets not forget that a lot of people do a lot of good things because of religion. I’d also like to make it clear, just for the record, that by “religion” I am not referring to just Islam because of what is in the news, I am in fact referring to all religions! In my eyes religion has caused more problems than people care to think about, war, conflict, hatred, racism and homophobia just to name a few. In the UK alone we don’t even have to look far from home, or in fact even mention muslims or islam to see some of the horrors that religion has caused, just look at the fighting between catholics and protestants in Ireland… I mean these are essential people of THE SAME religion, christianity… its the same God!! How much sense does THAT make?? None at all, thats how much! Yet how may people died because of it? Too many to even think about before your head starts to hurt whilst contemplating that technically these people were all on the same side, not even a “my god is better than your god!” just plain and simple “You belong to that group and therefore I hate you, and for no other reason!”. Madness!!

This pretty much sums up religion for me…

So as horrible as the protestant/catholic thing was, things dont seem to have improved much for us now, because while the troubles in Ireland have calmed down significantly, they have been replaced with extremist muslims acting out various atrocities in the name of their god, while a whole bunch of regular people all genuinely believing in this god get pointed at and persecuted because they supposedly fall under the same heading, if you’re going to start labelling groups of people based upon nothing other than which god they claim to pray to! I say “claim” as I find the religious aspect of these attacks highly questionable, as do most muslims by all accounts, and rightly so. I would really struggle with the thought of any muslims who didn’t condemn these attacks because they might have had an ounce of sympathy for the attackers after someone had dared to draw a picture of their prophet! Which brings me to my subject of freedom of speech.

Surely in a modern, democratic, fairly liberal society we can be fairly open in our thoughts and exercise our right to freedom of speech? Its a very basic right that we must value and never overlook, its our right in western society, always remembering that there are many oppressed countries around the world where having an opinion and voicing that opinion is simply not tolerated. Try exercising your freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia, North Korea or Somalia and see how far that gets you!

Then there is this theory, which must be carefully considered, although in my view a little far fetched, but not impossible… written by Michael Deacon in todays Telegraph.

Here’s a theory. Terrorists aren’t offended by cartoons. Not even cartoons that satirise the Prophet Muhammad. They don’t care about satire. For all I know they may not even care about the Prophet Muhammad.
Instead, they merely pretend to be offended by cartoons, in order to give themselves a pretext to commit murder. Murder so horrifying, on a pretext so unWestern, that non-Muslims – blinded by grief and rage – turn on Muslims. Blame them. Persecute them. Burn their book, attack their mosques, threaten them in the street, demand their expulsion from Western societies. Actions that, in turn, scare Western Muslims, isolate them, alienate them. And thus drive some of them to support – and even become – terrorists.
Result: terrorists swell their ranks for a civil war they long to provoke non-Muslims into starting.
In our angry innocence, however, we persist in thinking this is somehow about cartoons. In thinking that the terrorists “win” if we don’t reproduce those cartoons, and “lose” if we do. As if, at this very moment, terrorist leaders across the West are privately wailing in anguished disbelief because satirical cartoons have been reproduced this morning in several European newspapers.(“Disaster! Our plan has backfired in a way we couldn’t possibly have foreseen! Ink really does beat Kalashnikovs! Satire defeats us once again!”)
On the whole, I’m not sure that’s very likely. I don’t think the terrorists “win” if we fail to reproduce cartoons. I think the terrorists “win” if we leap up, gulp down their bait – and hate Muslims.

Food for thought, for sure, but what is the answer? I know my answer will probably mirror that of the majority, in that we carry on and not let these people beat us… but at what cost? I know there are 12 people in Paris that can no longer argue the merits of free speech any more! I even had a debate with my wife tonight, who believes that while freedom of speech is important, and most definitely our right, if we simply know that there are people out there who will kill us if our opinion offends them or their “religious beliefs” then why would we go stirring up their anger? For me, that just means that our speech suddenly isn’t quite so free any more, and we are simply hiding in the shadows, from some masked bully who won’t let us say or do what we think. It takes me back to the playground, and the school bully marching over, thinking he can has some power over us because he intimidates us, forcing us to give in and do as they demand. Are we suddenly in a position where we are going to start giving up our freedom of speech and reconsidering what we say just in case we offend someone?

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I know all this is a sharp contrast to my regular kind of blog post, but this weeks news disturbs me, it almost feels like there isn’t an answer. Almost like we’re shrugging our shoulders, looking and the person next to us, and saying “well, what now?”.

What is the answer? Does Bill Maher have the answer? Its certainly a very extreme view point!

The year ahead…

“Never ask the wife to help you clean your camera lenses!”

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It’s at this time of year that the majority of us tend to focus on one thing… exactly how much we ate over Christmas! If, like me, you’re one of these people and you’re really, really lucky, you won’t at least be thinking about how tight your clothes have become, or how some of them don’t even fit any more.

I am not so lucky!

Some of my clothes have got significantly tighter and some of them plain just don’t fit any more! I know full well that as soon as December started I pretty much turned into an eating machine, and consequently I fully expected to put weight on over the festive period, although getting on the weighing scales this week was still a little bit of a shock, I hadn’t quite expected the numbers that appeared in front of me… in fact I’m sure I could almost here the scales quietly sniggering at me! Still, it’s not the end of the world, I knew I’d end up putting something on, I allow myself to at this time of year, as for me its half of what christmas is all about. There are of course many elements to christmas, and yes I know there’s all that religious stuff that people will keep harping on about, but for me it’s ultimately down to two things… seeing people and eating well. I love catching up with friends and family at this time of year, it’s a great excuse to pick up the phone and say “let’s meet up!”. I don’t mind if they come to us, or if we go to them, it’s just a lovely time to see those who matter the most! The food and drink is equally important, in fact some could even say that this aspect is possibly being pushed by companies almost as much as buying presents is. There are plenty of folk who think Christmas is “just too commercial” and constantly remind us of this fact, would they also suggest that we’re also being brainwashed into spending just as much money on food and drink? Far more food and drink than we actually need? Or is that just something we’ve always done? The adverts on the to certainly want us to make sure our cupboards are full up with fine food and treats! Although I personally think that every good household should be well stocked for December anyway, mince pies for the guests, plenty of wine for when the kids go to bed, snacks for when it’s time to put the Christmas movie on, and don’t forget all the chocolate and cheese biscuits too! Maybe I’ve been brainwashed myself? Still, it’s not like I’m putting up much of a fight, the mulled wine and Pringles have gone down very well indeed!

Sadly, like every December, all this fun and hedonism has to come to an end, and inevitably January will relentlessly roll around and we get to take a good long look at what we’ve done to ourselves in the mirror. You could almost liken this moment of realisation to when the lights come on in the club at the end of the evening when you’ve spent the evening dancing and trying to pick up someone, and you actually get to see what they really look like under the harsh lights… and it wasn’t what you thought you saw when it was all dark! Well, for me the lights are most definitely on now, I have looked in the mirror, and it is not good. So what do I do about it? Well, I have a plan, and that plan is called myfitnesspal, an iPhone/iPad app that I have used before and previouslylost a stone and a half with (over 20kg) just using this app alone! Cutting out the snacks combined with generally being more active, and then doing this consistently paid off in the end! I’ve been using the app for two days now, and I the initial test weigh in the scales showed a drop off of 2lbs straight away after just a couple of days, and I can like the heartburn issue that was becoming quite regular has started to disappear too! I’ll keep the updates posted on here as we go through the rest of the month. Wish me luck!

Is anyone else trying to shift a few lbs? What are you doing about it?

Just before I hit ‘publish’ on this post, here’s a quick shot of our little lady, looking like she’s having a fairly good time, nothing too much worrying her… Oh the deceiving magic of Calpol!! You’d never believe this photo was taken at 11pm after nearly an hour of sobbing and whinging and snot and clinging to daddy like she was being dangled over a cliff! The poor little girl spent a day at nursery and yet again came home with a temperature! She has literally only just got over the last bout of germs, poor little thing, it seems so unfair! Still, it’s winter and there are lots of other toddlers around at nursery, what else can we expect? So, after a couple of hours in bed this evening she was back up, and so unhappy that we actually gave up trying to calm her in her bedroom and instead brought her downstairs for a bit in an attempt to settle her. The Calpol was flatly refused, and swiped away in temper, but we eventually got it down, and just 10 minutes later, it was like there hadn’t been a single tear! Oh the joys of children! Thankfully, after a few cuddles she finally went back off to sleep, which probably means she’ll still be asleep in the morning when the mother in law arrives and we have to leave for work. I hate the thought of not seeing her in the morning before we head out of the door, but this little girl needs to catch on her sleep now, and save her energy for fighting off the germs! I just hope a good sleep does the trick!

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Happy new year… here’s to a fantastic 2015!

A very happy new year to everyone who is reading this, whether you actually know me, you’ve been following me for a while on here, or have only just come across this blog. A couple of years ago I decided to take on a 365 project and continued it into a second year. Since I started it I have used this blog to post my daily photos for the last two years, although for now I have decided I am not going to continue this into a third year. I have enjoyed capturing a photo each day, and have captured some magical and important moments, such as the birth of my daughter, friends weddings, and while I still intend to take photos most days and update this regularly, it is most likely that I will now be updating twice a week instead of every day.

So now I am back and onto the first post of the year I look back on how we started the new year, and how we end the year is always a subject of great discussion. What are our plans? Where will we be? Who will we be with? Who else will be going? But how we start the year is not really talked about much, yet some people have very different ideas on what this should look like! We decided to blow out a few cobwebs and all head down to Lyme Regis sea front for a walk and a spot of lunch. It was cold, windy and a bit damp, yet we’d made it in time to see literally hundreds of people charging into the icy cold sea in a new years day tradition. Apparently, known locally as the Lyme Lunge it raises lots of money for charity, but I can think of far better ways!
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After shaking our heads in disbelief we took a moment to find some shelter from the weather to eat our lunch before heading back up the sea front.
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On the way back to the car, while we were still walking along the sea front, I took Olivia down the beach right to the edge of the sea, the wind was bracing and the waves were smashing against the rocks sending spray everywhere, and she thought it was brilliant! It was a lovely way to spend new year, with good friends, relaxing, taking in some sea air. At least when we got home we still had a few days off work. We included a visit to see my mom, as well as Clare’s parents…
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and I don’t know if its the fact that we’ve been keeping Olivia busy, or if she is just getting over her germs, but she has started to sleep through the night again. Its early days and I don’t want to jinx it, but it at least looks like we are heading in the right direction, after several weeks of being woken up every single night! We can’t complain too much as she always wakes up fairly happy, never screaming, and generally is asleep again in less than an hour, and sometimes less than half an hour. Its not something we wanted to get used to, but she gives such lovely cuddles and is always happy, that its hard to not enjoy it at least a little bit, even if it is usually the middle of the night!

We ended the two week holiday break for me, with a run this morning, followed by attending a first birthday party where Olivia seemed to really enjoy the soft play equipment…
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Then it was time to shoot home and prepare for both of my sisters to arrive for some belated present swapping and a bit of a buffet lunch. A lovely way to spend a few hours, with family!

Now with the alarm set for the morning and the bike lights back on charge, its time to get my head down and prepare for Monday morning and a new term!

Trying not to hate mondays… really trying!

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