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Day 073 – What do you do in the bath?

Day 73 – May 29th

What do most British people think of when they hear the words ‘bank holiday’?

I can guarantee that ‘Traffic’ will be one, ‘Extra days drinking’ will be the main focus for others, but the one answer that will come back the most will be ‘Rain’.

Yes, rain, and plenty of it! This bank holiday did not fail to deliver, it rained and rained and rained and rained. So what else do you do with two small children when the weather is not on your side? Well, as we’d totalynot managed to visit my mother over the weekend, today seemed like a good time. As luck would have it, one of my sisters also happened to be there at the same time. It kinda reminds me of when the family used to regularly gather at my nans house when we were young. The girls love the attention, and it takes the pressure off us.

One thing we did have on our side today was time, and so there is no excuse for not filling up the bath and letting the girls jump in, although it would appear that Olivia is not taking things seriously! Thankfully the girls both love bath time, and always have from their first times in, and almost always go in together. Now Chloe has stepped up from her bath seat, to stop her falling over, to sitting freely in the bath, which in one way makes things easier, but there’s also the consideration of what a little energy bomb she is, and the fact that she can’t stay still for long. Parenting was made so easy for us with Olivia, quiet and gentle, sleeping all night and never crying… now Chloe has arrived like a whirlwind and made our days even more eventful!

If Olivia was Yin, then Chloe is most definitely Yang!

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Day 072 – Are they here yet?

Day 72 – May 28th

Two things you can’t beat on a Sunday are a Formula 1 race and a BBQ. Today had both, and we had friends coming over to join us for the latter, later in the afternoon. After a few days of sunshine and warm weather, the weekend weather had turned a little cooler, but with a little cloud cover, today was still perfect for kids playing in the garden and cooking food on the BBQ without getting burnt by the sun!

The wife had gone out to visit her mother in hospital, and it was just me and the two girls at home again in the morning, waiting for guests to arrive and the wife to return must have felt like forever for the girls, thankfully I at least had the race to watch while we were waiting. This weekend was the jewel in the F1 crown, Monaco. For anyone that knows anything about F1, Monaco is a notoriously narrow street circuit, and the 2017 rule changes for Formula 1 have meant that the cars are no significantly wider than they used to be. This is great for grip and traction on most circuits, but it meant very little action in todays race once the cars had launched themselves off the start line.

With the last few laps before the chequered flag counting down, it was obvious that our guests had arrived early and so my focus rapidly shifted from the high-speed battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, to the toys strewn across the living room floor. Reality comes crashing down, and its a scrabble to get things tidied up just a little while the guests are still getting themselves out of the car. Its fair to say that more cleaning and tidying is done in the hour before guests arrive than in the whole rest of the week prior to that!

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Day 071 – 40 is not the new 30!

Day 71 – May 27th

As another one of our friends turned 40 recently, today we prepared to celebrate the occasion with a party, and so was the start of a busy day. In the morning, a few of us met up at the at The New Inn, where the party was being held, to lend a hand putting together the gazebo/tent thing, which had been bought for the event and was far too big for just one person to put up. Once that was done, there was one more errand to run before heading home to get myself ready for the party, the meat collection. A freezer full of meat always makes me happy.

The party was fun, everyone had a lovely afternoon, the kids enjoyed themselves too, and a few of us had managed to treat ourselves to a couple of afternoon drinks ahead of going into town on the evening to continue the celebrations. We don’t tend to get out quite so much these days, so this evening felt like a bit more of an event. It was good to get out with friends again, although the night felt a lot more low key than previous evenings out. Its fair to say we’ve had our share of fairly wild evenings, and while this particular evening was good fun, it was clearly on a different level, a new level. We were actually having conversations, all fairly coherent, and no one had really mentioned music or dancing. Was it really so obvious that most of us were now over 40?? Clearly things have changed, we’ve changed, our priorities are not the same as this time ten years ago. Most of us are now parents, married, and well aware that we are extremely unlikely to get much of a lie in, in the morning, if at all.

It has often been heard that “40 is the new 30”, one of those lines you hear thrown about from time to time, mostly by people who are 40 and wishing they weren’t, along with things like “life begins at 40” and other such pearls of wisdom. The truth is, when you actually do turn 40, you realise its a far cry from 30. Things have started aching, turning grey, becoming wrinkled and you seem to forget why you’ve walked into a room or done something, and you never ever seem to be getting enough sleep! Do I miss 30? Yeah sure, but the truth is, life has never been better!

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Day 070 – Only mad dogs and Englishman go out in the midday sunĀ 

Day 70 – May 26th

The warm weather continues and I get home after work to find my three ladies at home, sat around looking fed up as they were just too hot to do anything. The paddling pool was still out and so we decided to put some clean water in it and throw the girls in. The wife was heading out to the hospital to visit her mom again that evening, so it was down to me to get the girls ready for bed. Both of them were feeling tired, so it was a fairly simple process. Chloe had her milk and was almost instantly read for bed, almost as if the milk was telling her body “time for sleep”. Olivia is allowed to watch the iPad in bad on a Friday and a Saturday night, so she was up early to watch a few episodes of Paw Patrol, the new favourite watch. We have had to put restrictions on the use of the iPad as Olivia is becoming quite obsessed with it, and I don’t think it is healthy to let little brains become absorbed in this virtual world. A report I read recently, which can be found here, suggested that even very young children can become addicted to them, and excessive screen time can lead to obesity, aggression and depression. We like to make sure that the girls get a balance of everything, painting, writing, outdoor play, as well as time in front of the tv to relax, and some iPad time, which I try to strictly regulate, as Olivia, although not even 4 yet, would live on the thing if she could! I don’t mind 30 minutes in bed on a Friday and Saturday night though, everything in moderation!

With the girls asleep, its time to put my feet up and relax, Friday night, the start of the weekend, and more importantly the start of half term and a whole week off work.

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Day 069 – Some like it hot

Day 69 – May 25th

Without a doubt, the hottest day of the year so far, and whilst summer may not technically start until the solstice in June, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t have been calling it summer today!

Nice weather for riding a motorbike home from work, especially as I managed to leave a little earlier than normal, while it was still especially hot out. Its even nicer if you can keep that bike moving at speed, to keep cool, but as soon as you get stuck in traffic and slow down then you start to get a bit of a sweat on with all those biking leathers! I may have to pay a visit to the local bike shop and see what they recommend for the warmer weather!

I gave myself a few minutes to cool off once I was home before I walked round to the nursery to collect Olivia, and even though it was at the back of my mind, she’d already suggested the paddling pool before I had chance, and so we thought, “why not?!”. A good pair of cyclists lungs meant it was blown up in no time, and the girls were quickly in it. Just what kids want on a hot summers day to cool off.

Putting the girls to bed meant I still had to consider the cooling process, as the rooms are so warm, and so I was into the loft and bringing down the fans to keep the girls cool while they slept.

For me… a nice cold glass of cider that my sister had brought me for my birthday! Not a drink I have any other time of the year, except for on days like this! Perfect!

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Day 068 – Everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go

Day 68 – May 24th

What a day! I am hot and tired, my day at work was going fairly well right up until the end. Working in a special needs school can indeed be a very rewarding job, as many people inform me when I tell them what I do.

The job has many positive points and I enjoy what I do. I’ve been in the job a long time, and know that I can do it well.

As a teaching assistant the hours are good, the weekends are always a nice bonus, and the holidays are a definite perk (if you don’t mind being fleeced when booking flights or holidays!).

Then there are days like today, when pupils tempers flare and they lose it. Having my t-shirt ripped, my iPad smashed, and being physically assaulted in a number of ways, it takes all your patience and training to get through it whilst keeping calm and trying to avoid injury. It can be mentally draining and you head home feeling like a bit of a failure for not being able to prevent this pupils meltdown. When you work with pupils with special needs, especially autism, the day can always be unpredictable, and even when you try your hardest, there are times when you’re just not going to win.

Thankfully these kind of days are rare, and I always have my family to look forward to at the end of the day when I get home. There is nothing better than getting home and being greeted by two smiling faces that are thrilled to see daddy finally pull up on his motorbike and walk through the door. Some days Olivia likes to sit on the petrol tank of the bike, and hold the handlebars as I push the it up the drive and into the garage, and Chloe just gets so excited, and gives the best hugs too, you really feel like she’s missed you!

With the wife heading out after dinner to visit her mother in hospital again, its down to me to get the girls ready for bed, although with the weather being as warm and pleasant as it is, there’s still time for a little play in the garden first! As it approaches bedtime, it soon becomes obvious that Chloe is getting tired, the hugs are a bit more frequent, the dummy is in and her poor lamb is being dragged around behind her wherever she goes! This lamb is becoming more and more valuable as each day passes. We currently have no way of replacing it with an identical one as we didn’t buy it and have no idea where it was purchased from, it isn’t supposed to be put in a washing machine, although it definitely doesn’t quite smell as fresh as it used to, and we’re dreading the day that the realisation dawns on us that we can’t find it anywhere. Still, we must continue to guard it like its made of solid gold or something, for if this thing gets lost, then we will be having fireworks at home!

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Day 067 – What makes a person want to hurt somebody?

Day 67 – May 23rd

What is wrong with people?!? I was up late last night checking twitter and began to read reports on an “incident” in Manchester, reports of an explosion and bodies at the Manchester Arena, swiftly followed up by people declaring it to be a fake!

It wasn’t!

It was a concert, full of children and young people. Ariana Grande had given 20,000 people, including teenagers and children, the night of their life. Now 22 of them lay dead. They will never go home, be comforted by their parents, cuddle their toy bear. It is truly heartbreaking.

A suicide bomber, reported to have walked into the foyer and set himself off has been named, but I won’t even do him the service of having his name on here so it may be remembered. He is a nobody. A sick, dead nobody. He walked into the entrance of that arena, looked around at the children and young people everywhere and essentially shrugged his shoulders and thought “fuck ’em!”.

I am not going to start bringing religion into this, as much as I think religion is a bad idea. This pathetic excuse for a human being may have had a religion, but clearly mental issues caused this, not the writings of a scripture. Sure, ISIS may have claimed responsibility for this terror attack, but they could have claimed responsibility for a wet fart if they thought it would further their cause. Claiming responsibility is easy, even if it originally had nothing to do with you, and what is to stop them saying “yeah, sure… we’ll take that one!”? It doesn’t mean they did it!

Will we ever truly know why it was done? What was going through that selfish bombers mind? Truth be told, I’m just glad the scumbag was blown to bits rather than getting shot and living out the rest of his life with his feet up in a prison cell at our expense!

Manchester did themselves proud by pulling together and supporting each other, taxi drivers, hotels, even people sleeping rough on the street without a home got involved and did their bit. They showed us just how much humanity is left in the rest of us.

But it has still left us wondering, what kind of a world have we brought our daughters into??

365 project, Photography

Day 066 – I may let go of your hand, but never your heart

Day 66 – May 22nd

They grow up so fast? Will she always be seen as the baby of the family? It seems like five minutes ago that we were putting her down for naps in her moses basket and all she did was drink milk all day. Now she walks, feeds herself, climbs the slide in the garden on her own, and has even started making sounds that sound like “Mah” and “Dah”. We’re not convinced the latter isn’t just coincidence, but we’d like to think she is close to calling us mommy and daddy. I can’t even think back and remember when Olivia actually started doing that, it feels like she’s always done it!

Olivia from age 1-3 was a fun and exciting time, as her personality developed and she learned to do so much. I just want to make sure we get just as excited when Chloe does it, just because she’s the second child, doesn’t mean its any less of an achievement!

365 project, Photography

Day 65 – Summer arrives and we find we’re allergic to it

Day 65 – May 21st

Sunday really started to feel like summer was finally here, temperatures on the rise and the ground drying out from all the rain we’ve had. Likewise, the pollen count starts to rise and almost as if to punish us for enjoying the sunshine, it brings with it misery for hayfever sufferers like myself. Each year is different, and thankfully this year hasn’t been too bad so far, I am sure there is worse to come!

We’ve had a childrens party on the calendar for quite a while for today, from one well prepared parent at Olivia’s nursery. It seems that the popular choice for children around this age is to have it at a soft play centre of some description, and thankfully this one wasn’t far away from us. It was one we were unfamiliar with, and one we may well consider using again, as it was especially suitable for smaller kids. Half the problem with a lot of soft play centres is that they are geared up for older kids who are bigger and a bit sturdier, not only are some of the areas difficult for smaller kids to climb up, but the bigger kids tend to be much more reckless… and the parents rarely watch what they’re doing! The real bonus at todays party was that the entire place was hired out to just the one party, so it was closed off to the public. We still didn’t know a lot of the parents in there, but it was a little more reassuring that everyone was somehow connected and all the kids were a little safer. Soft play centres can be a little chaotic at the best of times, and you always have to watch your children like a hawk, being able to relax a little is a welcome relief.

Back at home the sun was out and it was time to get a little gardening done, pulling up a few weeds and tidying things up a little, with some help from Olivia. I happened to notice how the clematis that my sister had bought me for my birthday a couple of years ago had flowered again, and how pretty it looked. It was worthy of a photo for today. I’m still waiting for the rest of the flowers in the garden to blossom. Growing them from seed is a lovely way to do things, but they always seem to take a little longer.

365 project, Photography

Day 064 – Its not the size of your family, its how often you see them

Day 64 – May 20th

When the wife and me sat down to plan our wedding about six years ago, one thing became obvious very quickly, in that there is a huge contrast in the size of our families. My mom, for example, was one of six, whereas the mother-in-law was an only child. Consequently, I have many cousins, whereas the wife only has one.

Whilst growing up, I used to play with my cousins a lot, almost as much as I played with my friends, in fact they were pretty much just an extension of my friends. Over the years the family has broken down quite a bit, to the point where we barely see each other now, my mom and her siblings don’t really get on a great deal. As a result, family get togethers are few and far between, which does make me a little sad considering how much we used to see each other while we were growing up. In fact one of my cousins even unfriended me on facebook because her mom and my mom don’t get along, yet me and her have never fallen out, in fact far from it, we were quite close at one point, and now because of our mothers squabbling she’s turned her back on me. Still, families are weird, and there is certainly no escaping this fact, no matter how big or small they are. Having a smaller family, like my wife’s does make things much easier, and the fact is that they all still see each other much more frequently.

Olivia and Chloe have got four cousins, although the two from my side, my sisters girls, are all grown up, so we don’t see a great deal of them. The two from my wife’s side, her brothers children are still little, with one the same age as Olivia, so they like to play with each other whenever they get chance. Today happened to be one of those days, although it soon became obvious that the new kids film ‘Sing’ was taking over the living room today! At least they weren’t running around and screaming like idiots!