The 365 project: days 51-53

The first week back after paternity leave has gone in a flash, and unsurprisingly the first weekend after that has also disappeared in the blink of an eye too.

After a busy few days, reduced sleep has left us exhausted at the end of the weekend! All we can do is keep thinking that it won’t last forever and eventually they will both sleep through the night without question!

51: Friday night was a bit of a rough evening in terms of crying and screaming. The little lady clearly has some trapped wind issues, or something like that, and it seemed to reach a peak tonight, and so we were forced to abandon the idea of getting to bed early, or even at all, or at least it felt like that! The crying always seems worse at night, and when you are already tired and running low on energy, your patience feels stretched.

Day 51 - Feb 26th
Day 51 – Feb 26th

52: After a whole year of waiting, and various things getting in the way, we finally got to catch up with the wife’s friends who had driven up from Devon to see us. Its a shame we can’t see them more often as their girls love playing with Olivia, and I am sure Chloe will have as much fun when she’s older.

Day 52 - Feb 27th
Day 52 – Feb 27th

53: After a morning of swimming, and friends coming over to visit and see Chloe, the afternoon had us heading out to our godsons birthday party. We didn’t know a lot of people there, but Olivia had a great time, and it was nice to see the people we did know. Olivia overcame her fear of bouncy castles and got well into it! The birthday boy also had a fantastic time and was very excited about his amazing octonauts cake!

Day 53 - Feb 28th
Day 53 – Feb 28th

365 project, Babies, Journal, Parenting, Photography

The 365 project: days 48-50

Well the 365 project continues, but there is one thing that must come to an end, and that’s my relentless eating and consequent weight gain. Its fair to say it has been a somewhat distracting couple of months, which all started in the run up to christmas. For me, the festive period is a time to relax, ease up on the exercise, and generally eat and drink pretty much what I like, with the intention of burning it off when spring arrives. Unfortunately soon after the new year I was ill for a couple of weeks and in no real shape to be running or cycling, so I put all the exercise on hold. Then, pretty much as soon as I’d recovered it was the run up to the due date for baby number 2!

In the aftermath of a newborn, especially with a toddler running around distracting you, there are frequently evenings where you just cannot be bothered to cook. We totally caved in and took advantage of the Just Eat app on our phones, takeaway heaven! It was all good, but boy am I paying for it now!

So the time has come to dust off my trusty myfitnesspal app, and admit that something needs to change rapidly before I find myself heading off to the shops to depressingly refit my entire wardrobe with all new clothes in the next size up! I need to be banning all the snacks, and other calorie laden treats, especially and specifically the biscuits, crisps, beer and chocolate! 

Its fair to say I have surprising will power when I need it, and can stick at pretty much anything when I put my mind to it… except healthy eating it would appear. I have a real weakness for snacks, especially when I have just walked in from cycling my bike home from work and feel an instant craving for the sugary goodness that lines the biscuit tin! Giving in to it in a moment of weakness is all too easy, especially when you keep all that crap in your cupboards!
I have to remember that I have both my daughters christening and my 40th birthday to look forward to this year (still trying not to think about the 40th!) and I do not want to look back on those and be thinking about how fat I look in the photos! Time to get my ass in gear!

Anyway, more about that another time, on with the 365…

48: There have been some beautiful viewings of the moon recently, the skies have been clear and the air has been cold. Winter is a great time of year for star gazing, and there is a whole genre of photography dedicated to it. I’d love to take more photos of the stars, but I am not sure what kind of market there would be for those. I captured this shot of the moon with my 70-200mm lens on a cropped sensor camera, but still had to crop into the photo to get this.

Day 48 - Feb 23rd
Day 48 – Feb 23rd

49: One thing we haven’t been short of recently is flowers around the house. One thing we have been short of is vases to put them all in!I lose track of when the different bunches arrived, but this particular one doesn’t seem to be doing so well, I was wondering if the cold was affecting it as it was so close to the window? I still thought it would make a good shot anyway.

Day 49 - Feb 24th
Day 49 – Feb 24th

50: Clearly the wife has been food shopping and I need to rethink snack time, maybe a nice healthy apple would be a better alternative to biscuits!

Day 50 - Feb 25th
Day 50 – Feb 25th

365 project, Babies, Parenting, Personal, Photography

The 365 project: days 46 & 47

Days 46 & 47 of the 365

46: The final day at home before returning to work since the arrival of Chloe, and Olivia is playing the role of big sister very well, she seems to enjoy having a little sister around, even if she does pull a few funny faces while doing it. Its lovely to see all the curls that she has going on, especially as we had been swimming in the morning and leaving the hair to dry only seems to add more curls!

Day 46 - Feb 21st
Day 46 – Feb 21st

47: Day one of returning to work all done, and just glad to be home again with my ladies. After a very grumpy Sunday, Chloe seems to have had a much better day, although we have made the decision to try Infacol to see if any hint of colic is causing her to be so upset. It was nice to see her so relaxed today, as last night was pretty difficult for us, and as easy as we’ve had things so far, the relentless crying is draining on your sanity!

Day 47 - Feb 22nd
Day 47 – Feb 22nd

More to come soon!


Three things every entrepreneur should do at the start of each day

**This is not my post. This is taken from Richard Branson’s site, but I think they are useful tips to remember to help start the day in a positive, productive way.

It’s not only the start of a new day; it’s the start of a new year. As such, we thought we’d offer up three quick tips that should hopefully make your mornings both more enjoyable and more productive…

1. Rise early

As the saying goes, the early bird catches the worm. Night owl entrepreneurs may feel as though they’re getting ahead while the competition is heading off to bed, but in reality their productivity will be taking a nose dive. One entrepreneur who regularly starts his early is Richard Branson.

“I have always been an early riser. Like keeping a positive outlook, or keeping fit, waking up early is a habit, which you must work on to maintain. Over my 50 years in business I have learned that if I rise early I can achieve so much more in a day, and therefore in life,” explains the Virgin Group founder.


2. Avoid your phone for as long as possible

It may seem obvious, but so many of us fail to start our day with physical exercise – instead choosing to dive head first into a barrage of emails, putting our brain under some intense mental pressures. Arianna Huffington is a strong advocate of putting some distance between ourselves and our iPhone when it’s time to get some sleep.

Image credit: Hardy Wilson

“I’ve become a sleep evangelist, whether I’m gently chiding HuffPost reporters and editors who email me in the wee hours or sending my friends the same Christmas gift as I did last year – an old-fashioned Pottery Barn alarm clock, so they could stop using the excuse that they needed their tempting iPhone by their bed to wake them up in the morning,” explains Huffington.


3. Drink some lemon water

“Drinking lemon water as soon as you wake up spikes your energy levels physically and mentally. Lemon water gives you steady, natural energy that lasts the length of the day by improving nutrient absorption in your stomach. You need to drink it first thing in the morning (on an empty stomach) to ensure full absorption,” explains Travis Bradberry in Forbes.

“You should also wait 15-30 minutes after drinking it before eating (perfect time to squeeze in some exercise). Lemons are packed with nutrients; they’re chock full of potassium, vitamin C, and antioxidants. If you’re under 150 pounds, drink the juice of half a lemon (a full lemon if you’re over 150 pounds). Don’t drink the juice without water because it’s hard on your teeth.”

And if you’re after a morning routine with a difference, may we recommend that of the ring-tailed lemur!

365 project, Babies, Journal, Parenting, Photography

The 365 project: days 41 – 45

The next instalment of 365 photos, days 41 to 45, for your viewing pleasure.

41: Its a shot I love taking and have taken many times, including a shot of Olivia when she was newborn, its one I’d kick myself for if I forgot to take. It is the black and white close up shot of Chloe holding her mothers finger, having the adult finger helps to establish the contrast in size. One day soon those tiny little fingers won’t look so tiny any more, we’ll wonder where the time has gone and wish we’d done something to help us remember it!

Day 41 - Feb 16th
Day 41 – Feb 16th

42: The never ending corridor. Well,  it does end, eventually. This was taken when I was visiting my friend, on the link bridge between the new hospital and the old hospital, which I didn’t even realise was still standing. I knew this was my shot as soon as I turned the corner, and thankfully it stayed empty long enough for me to get the shot without me looking a bit weird!

Day 42 - Feb 17th
Day 42 – Feb 17th

43: As has proved a common feature over the last two weeks, another day spent at home waiting for people to visit. Today it was some of the wife’s work friends turning up for tea and biscuits. I had two choices, either sit feeling slightly awkward amongst a room full of nattering women and listen to their ramblings, or simply stay out of the way and find something else to do. I obviously chose the latter, and hid myself away upstairs. As they’d stayed a little longer than I had anticipated, I didn’t have much time to head out and take any photos, but found this shot of some flowers on the windowsill looking lovely in the sunlight.

Day 43 - Feb 18th
Day 43 – Feb 18th

44: When the day is drawing to an end and you know you have barely touched your camera, its already dark outside and most people are in bed, what do you do? Stop looking for a model and BE the model! Nothing wrong with a silly selfie once in a while.

Day 44 - Feb 19th
Day 44 – Feb 19th

45: I’ve been a Canon shooter for years now, but my wonderful 5D is getting on a bit, and as these things don’t last forever I had to look at a new camera, the Fuji X-T1, which has the added advantage of being smaller and lighter, and also works with my lights and radio triggers. I took this shot with the new camera and placed the flash on the fireplace at the side of the room.

Day 45 - Feb 20th
Day 45 – Feb 20th

I can’t wait for spring to roll around so we can get outside a little more and get a few outdoor photos. The 365 project is fun, but shooting outdoors opens up a whole new world of possibilities!

365 project, Parenting, Personal, Photography, Portrait

The 365 project: days 34 – 40

So I’ve made a decision to keep the 365 and regular blog posts separate, this will hopefully make it easier and quicker to upload and update the blog with photos. We’ll see how it goes.

34: The baby photos continue… they have to really don’t they?! This little lady will continue to change so much over the first year. I took so many of Olivia when she was newborn, that I didn’t want there to be a huge contrast in the number of photos of each of them.

Day 34 - Feb 9th
Day 34 – Feb 9th

35: I did some newborn photography training a few months ago, and knew that I had to put it to some good use now that I had the perfect opportunity, and so set up my studio lights and back drop and after taking photos of my friends little girl, I had to make the most of a willing model where I didn’t feel the pressure of a nervous parent watching over me, and was suitably pleased with the result.

Day 35 - Feb 10th
Day 35 – Feb 10th

36: On the Thursday, we had made arrangements to go out for lunch with the in-laws to our favourite carvery. The closest carvery is on our doorstep, but it is worth the extra drive to get our favourite. Afterwards we spend the afternoon relaxing with tea and a cake, one could have been forgiven for thinking it was a Sunday!

Day 36 - FEB 11th
Day 36 – Feb 11th

37: Friday, technically the last day of my paternity leave, as the following week was half term and essentially a free week at home for me. After we went for a walk around the local woods and park, I took the opportunity to head into work to show off Chloe to some of my colleagues, before treating myself to a few Friday night beers.

Day 37 - Feb 12th
Day 37 – Feb 12th

38: With my lights and back drop still out, I wanted to get some nice photos of Olivia too, as I didn’t want it all to just be about Chloe. The wife and me are quite mindful that Olivia isn’t feeling left out as it is so easy to overlook the needs of the bigger child when there is a newborn in the house.

Day 38 - Feb 13th
Day 38 – Feb 13th

39: Whilst waiting for friends to arrive after lunch, Olivia decided to get out her new toy train set, which we chose together on a recent trip to Toys R Us to spend a christmas voucher. Some thought it wasn’t a very girly toy, but I am keen to try not to stereotype her too much. The wife loves putting her in pink and giving her dolls, which is all fine, but I want her to know there are other things to explore and she is free to choose. If kicking balls and playing with cars is her thing, then so be it!

Day 39 - Feb 14th
Day 39 – Feb 14th

40: The weather is all over the place at the moment, we’ve had wet days, windy days, cold days, mild days. Today was bright and sunny, and felt quite mild while the sun was out, but as soon as it went behind a cloud it suddenly felt arctic! While the sun was beating down, I noticed how much the crocuses in our garden were thriving, I loved their colours in the sunlight, and this clump made a lovely shot looking directly from above.

Day 40 - Feb 15th
Day 40 – Feb 15th


The next chapter

I haven’t updated this blog in quite a few days now, I am guilty as charged, but I have my excuses… I have become a dad again!

Finally after 9 months of waiting, and managing to keep the sex of the baby a secret for so long (and almost wanting to burst with excitement and tell someone) we can finally reveal that my second daughter Chloe was born at 18:39 on February 3rd weighing a very healthy 8lb 2oz.

The arrival didn’t go quite as planned. For various reasons we had been booked in for a planned c-section and assumed that because it was planned and set for a certain day, that we’d be taken in at a specific time and the operation, as there was only three that day, would probably be done by lunch. As it turned out, we watched the first two operations go ahead on time while ours was pushed back further and further into the day, leaving us wondering it it was going to happen at all, and feeling a bit emotional and frustrated by the whole ordeal. In the end, after waiting virtually the entire day, they got us into theatre and everything was then pretty text book from there on. It all went fairly smoothly, our new little lady was soon in our arms, and we were soon back up on a ward so that Clare could recover.

Life ever since we got home from hospital has obviously been a bit different, as we now obviously have two children to look after, and very importantly have to make sure that our eldest isn’t feeling left out in any way now that the new one is here. It is very easy to become distracted by this new bundle of joy that has suddenly appeared in your life, who is ultimately very demanding of your time and energy. It is equally easy to not pay enough attention to those already around you, including other children. Thankfully, as there are two of us, we can split the work and make sure both children get the attention they need. How single parent families cope is beyond me, I take my hat off to them!

I think me and the wife have got things mostly sorted, we work well together and seem to balance each other out fairly well, and seem to be able to do what is needed to keep things running smoothly. We both play quite different roles, Clare plays a very motherly role, she’s organised and looks after the home well. I tend to be a typical dad, the punchbag that throws the kids around and generally acts a bit silly to entertain them. I’m also chief jar opener and spider catcher!

Having one child doesn’t always leave a great amount of time to do the things that you need to or want to do, and having a second child means that finding time for literally anything is limited to the small amount of time between putting them to bed, finishing chores and getting to bed at a reas
onable hour yourself! thing I did manage to find time for, was the 365 photos, Its very easy to take lots of photos when you have a new baby around you, and likewise

On February 1st I got home from work and happened to look up at the sky to see what the weather was doing and spotted some strange shapes and colours in the sky. I was a little freaked out, but soon found an answer online explaining the phenomenon, known as iridescent clouds.

Day 26 - Feb 1st
Day 26 – Feb 1st

The 2nd Feb and we are now at due date minus one, with our little one scheduled to be arriving at some point tomorrow. We have almost everything ready that needs to be for us to bring her home. Primarily, we needed her car seat ready above all else, to be able to bring her home in.

Day  27 - Feb 2nd
Day 27 – Feb 2nd

SUCCESS! Chloe arrives and now our family of three has become complete, a happy family of four!

Day 28 - Feb 3rd
Day 28 – Feb 3rd

Olivia is happy to meet and hold her little sister and help us to take her home.

Day 29 - Feb 4th
Day 29 – Feb 4th

Our beautiful little girl is too cute, and just like her sister she will no doubt have many photos taken of her.

Day 30 - Feb 5th
Day 30 – Feb 5th

This photo was taken for a reason, as we took a similar photo of Olivia just a few days after she was born. It was a wide aperture shot, taken by lamp light only.

Day 31 - Feb 6th
Day 31 – Feb 6th

Yes, another Chloe shot, there will be many of these in the early days. This shot had to be taken, her first bath moment, which she really enjoyed, and the only tears we saw were when we finished and got her out of the bath.

Day 32 - Feb 7th
Day 32 – Feb 7th

Olivia and Chloe in their first photo together after leaving hospital.

Day 33 - Feb 8th
Day 33 – Feb 8th

So that’s our exciting news AND the 365 up to date. See you all soon!

365 project, Babies, Parenting, Photography

365 – days 22 to 25

Its over, our final weekend of being a three person family is done! Next weekend there will be four of us! What a week it is going to be!

The weekend wasn’t marked in any special way, with the wife being as pregnant and large as she is, with just a few days left to go, she’s easily exhausted and currently not inspired to do much.

We did make it over to see my mother and visit the wifes parents too, I also made sure I found time to take my daughter swimming as I am not sure when we’ll next get chance. She has found a new confidence in the water, so I am trying to take her as often as I can at the moment, but the logistics of working around a toddler and a newborn hasn’t yet kicked in. Life is about to get a little bit manic, and we soon won’t be able to give her the 100% attention she has been used to. We are going to have to make sure we do all we can to not make her feel left out.

One thing the wife has been filling her time with is a bit of baking at home, and I came home from work on Thursday to be greeted by the smell of freshly baked cupcakes. This usually means that sadly they are either being taken to work, and hence I don’t get a look in, or the cakes are for a church sale and yet again I don’t get a look in, or the wife has friends coming round and I don’t get a look in. With the wife being on maternity leave, no-one due to visit, and no church fete anytime soon I was pleased to find out that she had baked them to pass the time and I could tuck in! Result!

Day 22 - Jan 28th
Day 22 – Jan 28th

I love Friday, I always get home an hour earlier than the rest of the week. Apart from seeing my daughter for an hour longer, the other big bonus is getting home in daylight and being able to grab a few photos outside. I figured I haven’t taken a portrait shot of my daughter in a few weeks (I always wanted to get regular shots for the first few years) and so here was my chance to head outside for a few minutes and get a few photos. She has really got the idea of posing for the camera now, which makes the job a little easier.

Day 23 - Jan 29th
Day 23 – Jan 29th

Saturday found me handing more money over to my daughter. She is too young to grasp the concept of pocket money, or what to do with it, but she knows that coins are supposed to go in her money box, regardless of who they belonged to before she got her hands on them! I am often finding change has gone missing from the side of my bed, but I don’t mind. Its nice to know that she is getting into the habit of saving it in her money box though, who knows how much she’ll have when the time comes to spend it?!

Day 24 - Jan 30th
Day 24 – Jan 30th

Sunday was one of those days where I didn’t get much chance to get the camera out, but figured that as she is growing up so fast I’d want to remember the last few days of her being in a cotbed, as the wife reads her a bedtime story. I know that it is only a matter of weeks, or a couple of months at best now before she ends up in a proper bed and we hand the cotbed over to the new baby. It will be the final transition of our little baby becoming a big girl, which is why I have taken so many photos along the way (far too many, I know!). They are only little for a such a short while, and looking back there are so few photos of me growing up, which really saddens me, but in hindsight has made me treasure each and every photo that I do have. There is still a valid argument for quality over quantity, and more photos doesn’t mean better memories. Its easy to get carried away in this digital age though, and end up with hard drives full of thousands of photos that never get looked at, which is why I have taken to printing our favourites over the last few months, ready to put in albums. We’ve already had some fun looking through the prints that have arrived, at things we’d forgotten about.

Day 25 - Jan 31st
Day 25 – Jan 31st

So what is the current new baby news? Well its Monday night now and on Wednesday morning we’re up early to head into hospital to find out what time our slot is for the operation to have the baby airlifted out. It has been nice to know when the baby will actually be here, it takes away the uncertainty a bit and makes it easier to plan for. I’m feeling excited and nervous all at the same time, and I don’t think the reality of what is about to happen really kicks in until you are holding that baby in your arms. Then sh** gets real!

We’ve done pretty much all we can to plan and prepare for this, and there are still a few bits to do around the house, but nothing that can’t wait a few more days. I guess I should be getting my man bag ready to take into hospital with a few essentials in, but being men we don’t need much, my camera and some lunch will probably do it. There won’t be a huge amount of waiting around to contend with, and once the baby is here, the parents will turn up, with our daughter in tow. So forget all that talk of books, magazines and ipods, those days of having free time and not knowing that to do with it are long gone! Now we are more concerned with where the time has gone, than what to do with it!