Day 134 – I’m just waiting for the sun to come out

Day 134 – Jul 29th

Today was the final day of work being done on the garden, Leigh was dropping by to collect some tools and tie up a few loose ends. The new patio area in the garden was essentially finished though. We expected to have to wait in all day for the new garden furniture to be delivered, but thankfully it arrived first thing in the morning giving me the afternoon to assemble it all, once the garden was finished and Leigh had gone. It was a tricky job, as some of the parts didn’t quite line up, but with a little bit of encouragement and a few tools I had it all fitting eventually… after a lot of huffing and puffing and a little swearing! It took far longer than I had expected, but finally it was up and in place, and so it was time to test it out.

Its certainly comfortable enough to spend a few warm evenings on, with a glass of wine as we watch the sun go down, but I do want to add a few details to it. Firstly we’re hoping for a parasol to keep some of the sun off on really hot days, and I also want to invest in a chiminea to burn a few logs and keep us warm on the cooler nights.Before assembling the furniture I had been out to collect some firewood from someone who was going to hire a skip and throw it all out.

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Day 133 – When the children go quiet, its time to worry

Day 133 – Jul 28th

Yes, that’s black pen around her eye. Yes, she put that there herself. Friday, for the most part, was a quiet day at home, of which we’ve had a few this week, but work was recommencing in the garden and I had promised to be around to help with any heavy lifting, as our gardener Leigh had injured his knee last time he was here. As it turned out, he managed to get a lot of it done without any help from me. It meant a lot of time at home and trying to keep the girls entertained. Unfortunately Chloe is getting to that age now where you dare not take your eyes of her for a second, as she is bound to end up hurting herself, making a mess or breaking something!

The only real significant event of the day was that this evening an old school friend was coming over for dinner, someone I hadn’t seen for a number of months due to some personal circumstances on their behalf. I managed to cook up my personal favourite, I guess you could call it a signature dish, Milanese Chicken Risotto. Its not a hugely difficult dish to create, but it does take a little time, and is totally worth it. It seemed to go down well with three empty plates at the end of the evening. I enjoyed catching up with my friend over a few drinks, but unfortunately got slightly carried away, and stayed up a little too late, and drank a little too much. Its so easy to lose track when your catching up with friends. At least with entertaining at home, when your guests leave you can just crawl up the stairs into bed.

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Day 132 – If I have nothing else in the world, I have my family

Day 132 – Jul 27th

I don’t know where the time has gone… five whole years! Its our fifth wedding anniversary today and it seems to have gone in the blink of an eye, which I am sure must be a good thing! Not sure the wife would agree, it may seem more like a prison sentence to her! I think she still loves me though, she hasn’t suffocated me in my sleep, or poisoned my food yet!

We had decided to celebrate with lunch at our favourite carvery, a lovely little pub away from the city, called The Nailers Arms. I’ve been there a number of times before, and the staff are always friendly and helpful, whilst the food is by far the best we’ve ever had at a carvery. They were particularly accommodating and helpful when we organised a group meal there one christmas, and consequently I felt it fair to call the manager to inform him what a good job his staff are doing, as well as leave a very positive review on tripadvisor. Credit where credit is due, and all that. I am sure most places only get calls when there is a complaint or a problem, so I thought it would be a welcome change to give them a more uplifting call.

Thursday is typically a nursery day for Olivia, but as it was our wedding anniversary I wanted to be there with my family, so we swapped Olivia’s day at nursery meaning she could be there too. I wanted the four of us to be able to celebrate together, even if the girls are too young to understand, I still wanted them there. Olivia sat and ate really well, but Chloe just doesn’t seem to eat as well when we go out for some reason, so she hardly touched her food. Consequently once we got home it was snack time for the little lady. Dunkers and cream cheese is a big hit, but makes quite a mess… but thats part of the fun of eating when you’re little, isn’t it?!

With the girls finally in bed, we finished off our evening with a bottle of fizz and a film, with a dark and fairly depressing view on the world of heroin addiction, the classic Trainspotting was our choice, as a refresher ahead of watching the sequel over this coming weekend. Still a great film, with room for a few giggles, can’t wait to see the second one!

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Day 131 – It can’t rain forever

Day 131 – Jul 26th

With Olivia’s nursery day switched to today, we had to work out how to get her there this morning in the pouring rain. The instant and obvious choice was to jump in the car and drive round, which always pains me as it is walking distance… but Olivia was having none of it, and insisted on walking. My initial response was one of “oh for f**ks sake” muttered under my breath, but then I figured “so what… its just rain!”. What was my problem with throwing on a rain coat, putting up the umbrella and heading out for a refreshing walk in the rain? Well, quite simply there wasn’t one!

I guess we have become a little obsessed in these modern times, with things being made easy for us, getting away with being lazy, being comfortable and dry in our cars, not having to walk anywhere, getting places quickly and not having to wait for anything, and can become a little removed from the simplicities of walking in the rain, laughing with little ones as they jump in puddles, taking our time and remembering that life is about the journey, not the destination.

And so it was, rain coat on, umbrellas out, and off we walked to nursery, making sure Olivia had her boots on, as there was definitely going to be some puddle jumping going on!

It was good to see our friend Tracy today, who stopped by for a coffee with her two little ones. You always know when you’re in good company when you’re not quite sure where the time went when they come to leave! She’s such a good person, even with her lively son and baby daughter, she’s always offering to help and babysit if we need it, like she doesn’t have enough to do! Pre-babies, the four of us often used to enjoy drinks and dinner together, hopefully we’ll be able to do that again eventually when the little people begin to sleep properly.

Thankfully the morning rain did end, and the clouds vanished and the sun came out, giving way to a beautiful blue sky, so after Tracy left the three of us were able to take a family walk up to the nursery to pick Olivia up, and also stop off at the in-laws on the way home, before heading out for an unhealthy and nutrition free chip shop dinner for us and the girls!

365 project, Photography

Day 130 – Make plans, but be prepared to change them

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Day 138 – Jul 25th

A surprisingly warm day to kick the six weeks holiday off with. After walking Olivia up to nursery the rest of the day was a little unplanned, something I didn’t want to be happening for the rest of the holidays, we need to sit down and start planning a few activities, days out and visits to see family & friends. There is plenty we can do, although I don’t want to fill every day up. We need days at home to rest and relax, they are just as important, providing that we’re getting out and doing things on our list.

I needed to pop back into work to collect something I’d left there, and also needed to visit one of my sisters to drop something off as well. As the wife was out doing the food shopping, I took the motorbike and felt like I’d nearly cooked myself, all wrapped up in protective clothing in the sunshine! It’s nice that in the middle of the day during the holidays, the roads are so quiet. I am definitely beginning to feel the restrictions of a 125cc motorbike now, and cannot wait to get my theory test out of the way next week, then I am one step closer to taking my full test and upgrading the motorbike to something with a bit more poke. I am not wanting to pull wheelies, or race cars along dual carriageways, or anything like that, but part of the bonus of being on two wheels is being able to do things like jump to the front of a queue and pull away when you need to, rather than the car behind you trying to squeeze past because you’re just not accelerating fast enough.

With the girls in bed, it wasn’t long before the wife headed up and I was left alone downstairs, so I figured I would treat myself to a little drink to being on holiday, and although I hadn’t ticked much off the to-do list today, I am confident we’ll get plenty done over the next few weeks. Just need to get a bit more practised in getting to bed early now!

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Day 129 – Lets start as we mean to go on

Day 129 – Jul 24th

This is it, the summer term is finally over, the last day in work is finished and I can go home to six glorious weeks with my girls!

I will now get to spend, not just most days, but the whole six weeks with them, after a text message from my friend which informed me that they no longer needed me to look after their son any more, rather than the flexible arrangement we had previously, they needed the support to be more regular and with more help during the week rather than just at the weekend, which I could never have offered because of the hours I work and getting the girls to bed. I’ve been doing this for over two years now, and it has been nice to help friends out, especially as their needs were quite specific and it was an area I happened to have experience in, but I’m glad I can have more time at home with my own family now.

So as I arrive home with the sun shining, what better way to spend the afternoon than head straight back out to the park. Everyone is just sat around glued to the tv, yawning and stretching, so lets go and get some fresh air in our lungs and wake ourselves up! Clare decides to stay at home to prepare dinner and tidy stuff, so I strap the girls into the car and head down to my favourite local park and nature spot, Warley Woods. What better way to spend the afternoon than working up an appetite in time for dinner.

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Day 128 – Bring friends and family together, lets celebrate

Isla baptism-6540
Day 128 – Jul 23rd

Its not often we get to go out as a family to celebrate an occasion other than a birthday party, especially as most of our friends are already married now. Today was the christening of my good friends little girl, and I had missed out on a night out with friends last night to make sure I was ready on time in the morning. The night out in question was in fact 80 miles away and would have required crashing over at a friends house, meaning I ran the risk of either over-sleeping, getting stuck in traffic, driving home with some alcohol still in my system, or worst case scenario… all three! Nights out with friends are a rare treat these days, but I couldn’t risk being late home.

As it was, already being home in the morning was nice, it meant not having to rush about, there was plenty of time for baths for the girls and showers for us. My aim was to get in the car earlier than we needed to be so that we could take our time and get there nice and early, which we managed to do, and it set us up nicely for a very relaxed day. I don’t know why we don’t do this more often!

The christening was a cosy little affair in a small village church, with a very friendly vicar who was very accepting of noisy children and people with cameras (which was mostly me) and so I managed to get a few nice shots, before we all retired to the community hall next door for tea and cakes, and a very tasty buffet.

By the end of the afternoon the girls were shattered and it came as no surprise that Olivia was asleep minutes after being in the car. Chloe somehow lasted until we got home, but then went down for a massive nap. To be honest, I could have done with one myself, with a chest infection and coughing fits waking me up at 6am for the third morning in a row! Damn germs!!


Day 127 – success doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone

Day 127 – Jul 22nd

July being the busy month that it is, meant another birthday party to attend. This time it was for the son of one of my oldest friends. He was born with Cystic Fibrosis, an inherited condition that neither of his parents had, but who were still carriers of the gene. I won’t bother going into the details of the condition, as there is more than enough information on the internet, but needless to say it is typically a life limiting condition. His mother is always doing fundraising for CF research, and I’ve previously ran a half marathon to raise money for it too, and the continuous research is paying off as life expectancy for someone with CF is going up and up all the time. 

This condition makes each birthday for him just a bit more special. He looks and acts healthy and normal now, but that may not always be the case. His mom works hard to ensure he gets everything he needs to limit the effect of the condition, and there are new drugs coming out that can help to drastically slow down the process, but funding is always an issue as they are notoriously expensive, and getting the government to fund these drugs is an ongoing battle!
Hopefully he will have a long and healthy life and will outlive us and his parents, and the chances are looking better all the time.

The girls had a lovely time at his party, even though Olivia was particularly freaked out by the arrival of the special guest, Batman, and decided that she didn’t want to take part in any of the activities until he’d gone. She’s never really seen batman before, as superheroes aren’t something that we watch in our house, it’s all Trolls, Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, but that’s what you get when you have two girls! 

I watch my friends who have boys, and whilst they are lovely, very cute to begin with, by the time they get to two years old, they are usually little energy bombs that are set on a path of destruction, smashing their way through life, and taking that bruises and cuts that come with it. Having girls is a very different scenario, life is generally more glittery and sedate. More cuddles and nail varnish than play fighting. It’s clearly genetic, the boys are in no way trained or encouraged to be rough and loud, and the girls are no more encouraged to sit and watch Disney films… all this seems to happen naturally. I’m very glad to have two little girls though, boys look exhausting!

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Day 126 – Schools out for summer… almost!

Day 126 – Jul 21st

The end of term is here, for most people in our school. Its a bit of a funny year though, there will still be some people, including myself, that will still be going in on Monday.

So that we could finish on the Friday, the school gave us the option to stay after school and make up the hours for the final Monday… or we could leave on time at the end of the day as we normally do, and just come in on the final Monday. There was a dilemma here, but we were then told we had to make up the hours in a series of two hour sessions after work… TWO full hours after work!

After a full day I really didn’t want to be staying behind a further two hours, when my day is done I want to get home to see my girls. Screw it, I’m going in on the Monday and doing all my hours in one go, its the easiest way.

Friday evening proved to be a wet and windy affair, so it was even more pleasing to curl up with the wife, a few beers and some snacks, and put on a film. I’d made the decision to put on the Sixth Sense as the wife had never seen it. Anyone who has seen it will instantly remember the ending, and normally the wife can spot twists like this and guesses them five minutes into a film, so I was convinced she was going to work out how this was going to end… but she didn’t! All the way to the end and she literally announced in clear shock that she “did NOT see that coming!”. I felt a sense of pride on a) a film that she stayed awake through, and b) a film she did not predict the ending to.

Yeah, happy Friday everyone!

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Day 125 – The end is in sight

Day 125 – Jul 20th

Its almost the end of term, so close that I can almost taste it! For parents its that dreaded time of year, what to do for six weeks with the kids, but for anyone who works in a school its a long awaited break. Some friends grumble about us having six weeks off, some make fun of us because its only been a few weeks since our last holiday and our job must be (sarcastically) so stressful. The thing about schools is that they are all very different, and within that each class is different, and likewise, each pupil is very different. This is much more apparent when you work in a special needs school, as kicks, bites and punches can be part of every day life. So yeah, when we are making biscuits or getting the paint out, life may seem like a walk in the park to some people, but when your clothing gets ripped, you get punched in the head and kicked in the shin, and even spat at in the face on a fairly routine basis, you may feel like you need a bit of a break so that you don’t get to the point where you may lose your patience and snap at one of the kids, because as soon as you do… they’ve won! On top of which, we’re human, there’s only so much you can take on a daily basis, plus the kids need a break too, their behaviour is noticeably different at the end of term, and even more so at the end of the school year. Yeah, I’ll take that six week break thanks!

At the end of each summer term it is becoming increasingly popular for schools to have a leaving prom, even nurseries are getting in on the act now! As is traditional, our school did the same, and yet again I was asked to take some photos, although I was keeping my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t get asked this time. I’ve done it for the last few years and its a hectic evening, I’m exhausted and aching at the end of it, I have to miss out on putting my own girls to bed, and unlike everyone else that goes I have to use my own (very expensive) equipment, plus I am usually the last one out of there and the only one to walk away from the night with homework!

Still, I’d agreed, so I had to do what I could. It was a combination of two kind of shots, firstly of the pupils that were leaving receiving their awards, and secondly taking some posed photos with the studio lights and backdrop, where some props had been provided for the occasion, as seen in todays photo. Although one of my fears came to light on this particular event, too many people getting silly and over excited with the props too close to the backdrop, one of them stumbled, stepped backwards, and tore a hole my nice vinyl backdrop and nearly pulled the whole thing down. I was not a happy bunny at this point, although I have been promised that a replacement will be paid for it is needed. It has made me think about whether or not I’ll agree to do it again next year though.