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Day 153 – Why won’t you eat?

Day 153 – Aug 17th

We’ve had a slightly out of character little girl this week, Chloe has been off her food a bit, and we’ve had a couple of vomiting episodes. Monday was the first, and our choice for having a laminate wood floor was totally justified when Chloe was sick on the floor and we could just wipe it up. There seemed to be no reason for her being sick, we’d all eaten the same, her nappies were normal, she was as playful and jolly as ever… it just seemed to come from out of nowhere. Tuesday was fine, it looked like she was over whatever it was that had been the problem the day before. Wednesday we had yet another vomit episode again just before bed, only this time we weren’t so cocky about the wipe clean floor as she had managed to cover our living room rug, which, considering she’d not long had her bottle of milk, and prior to that she’d eaten garlic butter filled dough balls, that rug was never getting cleaned, it was time to dispose of it! There is no way we are getting rid of the smell of regurgitated milk and garlic butter!!

So today was a quiet day at home, once Olivia was in nursery, we didn’t want to risk taking Chloe too far in case she was sick everywhere again. My only chance to get out was a trip to the gym, and picking up Olivia from nursery on the way home. I’d delayed going out to the gym until the last minute as I was a little nervous of injuring my heel again on the treadmill. It was a bit tender after my last run, and I am still not entirely sure what I have done to it.

I managed to get a bit of a run in, but I was feeling burnt out, today was a real struggle! I need to be going far more frequently than I am, and the chance of entering this years Birmingham Half Marathon feels like it is beginning to slip away from me unless I can drastically increase my running distance in the next couple of weeks! I haven’t run the half marathon in a couple of years now, and I am missing it, its a fun day and the atmosphere is brilliant! Last year I had a knee injury which prevented me from training, and this time its a foot injury. Still, I have run twice this week and my foot doesn’t hurt too much, maybe its a promising sign??

Day 123 – nothing worth having comes easy

Day 123 – Jul 18th

A progress update on the garden, after a couple of days work from Leigh, who had been brought in to fix our garden, we have the top cleared and almost ready to lay slabs down on. The garden already looks bigger, although its still a bit of a mess while this is going on. 

Today we had the materials delivered that we need to complete the job, comprising of 60 paving slabs, a tonne of hardcore and a giant bag of sand, as well as five bags of cement. The cement couldn’t be left out, in case it rained, so those had to be moved indoors, but I also needed to move the slabs as well. 

I knew it would be a slow job, it would be heavy work, and my back and legs would most likely be aching at the end of it, but it needed doing. An hour and a half later and I have moved all of the slabs from the front garden, through the garage and into the back garden, all the slabs are inside and I’ve finished digging the top of the garden to make way for the work to continue today. 

It’s dark outside, I’m sweating and ready to do nothing but collapse in bed, but not before I’ve had a shower first!!

Day 119 – A change is as good as a rest

Day 119 – Jul 14th

Its nice to have your skills recognised, and being a photographer, when your employer asks you to take time out of your work to do head shots of staff, its quite nice to be able to do something different for a day. As I’ve said before, I never like to complain about my job, but when I am being paid for the day to take photographs instead, it makes a refreshing change. This close to the summer holidays, everyone is winding down for the end of the year now, so things are quieter in the classroom anyway.

I shot around 80 staff, but had to do it in bursts here and there, waiting for staff to find an opportunity to step out of the classroom. Sometimes there would be a queue of people waiting, other times I would be stood around waiting for people to turn up. I also had a chance to edit a few of the photos before the end of the day, so that I didn’t get roped into having to do it at home. These photos don’t benefit me financially in any way, and so I don’t want to be taking up my own time working on them.

Todays photo was one of my colleagues, a guy I have known for a long time, as he started around the same time as me, over 20 years ago. A very friendly, charismatic guy, who is just one of those people who seems to make friends with pretty much most people. I know he won’t mind me using his photo. I have over edited his image a bit, to give it a gritty, high contrast feel. Nothing like the images I will deliver to my employer, which will not look as harsh as this, but I love the way this image looks!

At least I was still able to get out of work on time, as I had no choice but to bring the car to work today with all the lights, backdrops and stands that I just could not carry on a motorbike.

Back when I passed my driving test in 1995, I was just 19 and thought I had the world at my feet with my new found independence, but recently I have actually gone from loving driving, to starting to resent it a little. Its fair to say that I have been truly spoilt with the extra freedom of a motorbike… all the joys of cycling and weaving through traffic on two wheels… but with an engine!! Now I find traffic jams simply unbearable when I am in a car, and commuting to work in the car is something I try to avoid wherever possible! So getting out of work on time was crucial, and my sanity was saved when I got home a few minutes earlier than normal. My family time at home had started, I had my girls and that was all I needed… well, apart from a few Friday night beers!

Day 118 – Sometimes you just have to ask for a little help

Day 118 – Jul 13th

Okay, so todays photo isn’t the most exciting photo I’ve taken over the course of a 365 project, so why have I taken it?

The answer is simple… its a “before” photo! Yup, after trying to find the time to do something about this part of the back garden for four years, and clearly not doing a very good job about it, in just a few days that corner is not going to look like this any more.

Each summer I promise myself that I’m going to get on top of it, and conquer this corner, and each year I fail. I keep doing a bit here and a bit there and then telling myself that I just don’t have the time. 

So now we have enlisted the help of my sisters partner, whose trade is gardening/landscaping/fencing. He cleared this patch by lunchtime, and totally put me to shame. Still, it had to be done, and he did it. He’ll be back tomorrow to do more, and eventually, once we have slabs down, we can put some furniture up there and enjoy the sun that seems to stay in that corner most of the day and evening!

I clearly couldn’t do this on my own, but at least I can now look forward to relaxing with drinks in the garden, watching the sun go down!

Day 111 – When you think you can’t, remember why you do

Day 111 – Jul 6th

Weather forecast: unbearable heat, followed by flash flooding and thunder

Choice of transport: bicycle

Okay I took a bit of a chance with cycling to work, especially considering it looked like the afternoon ride home could have looked like the end of the world, and if I didn’t get washed away, could otherwise just melt.

Still, cycling to work definitely has its benefits, and is clearly a growing trend, with visibly more people taking to two wheels in the mornings. Its a good start to the day, getting to work feeling energised and awake, happy in the knowledge that I’ve done my bit for the environment, and my that journey has cost me nothing… plus I have to remember the pressing problem that most of my jeans still don’t fit, so any exercise is a good thing at the moment, unless I am squeezing in five nights a week at the gym… which I’m not.

The rain never came in the end, but the heat did, and it was a warm ride home. Literally as soon as I pulled up, my wife pointed out that it was time to collect Olivia, so with only enough time to grab a drink and change my cycling shoes for trainers, we were back out again. The walk made for a nice cool down from the cycling, and its always good to get a bit more sun on the skin, as we don’t know how long the sunshine will be around for. After the last little heatwave, we all thought we’d pretty much seen the end of summer in the UK, and now here we are worrying about watering the garden as we don’t know quite when its next going to rain. Its funny how different things become important as you get older!

We nearly wrote off bath night for the girls due to the heat, but instead made the bath water fairly cool. We need any help we can get keeping the girls cool on days like today, as Chloe’s little box room is always the warmest room in the house. I am looking forward to the day we can get bunk beds in Olivia’s room at the back of the house, which is much cooler, and have them share a room, as days like today will then be much easier. Hopefully they’ll get along and not hate each other, as I think that as a parent, thats the one thing you can’t really control… can you?

Day 105 – The birthday weekend begins here

Day 105 – Jun 30th

Its Friday and the beginning of a weekend of celebrations, with the wife and her brother having birthdays only a day apart, and the forecast for the weather looking promising, it was set to be a good weekend.

As it was a birthday weekend, I thought I’d start the celebrations on Friday night and so I’d secretly arranged for one of my sisters to come over and babysit once both the girls were in bed, so that I could take the wife out for something to eat, a rare treat for us these days. It may have been the local Indian restaurant, but the foods always good, and we’re close to home if Chloe were to wake up and not settle back down. 

With the big one having an unexpected nap when I got home from work, the chances of getting the girls up to bed early were looking slim. Thankfully Olivia is at an age now where we can explain things to her and reason with her, and once we explained that we were going out for dinner and that her aunt and uncle were going to be downstairs, she was fine with it, as long as she could watch the iPad in bed for a bit at bedtime, which is allowed on a Friday!

Bring on the sunshine and BBQs!

Day 104 – Some people have “come to bed” eyes, I just have “go to bed” eyes

Day 104 – Jun 29th

So tired today, so so tired. My attempts to get earlier nights seem to have failed recently, I’m not getting to bed much before midnight on an average night. I’d been using an app on my phone to monitor my sleep, and it initially encouraged me to make more of an effort to get to bed at a sensible time. This has allowed me to track my sleep patterns over time, and in the last 7 days I am averaging 5hrs 50mins of sleep per night. Anyone would think our children were still babies and crying at night or something! Its not good for getting up in the morning, and its not good for having enough energy for the gym in the evening.

Committing myself to not only a photo every single day for a year, but also a daily blog to go with each photo, was always going to add a bit of a challenge to each day, I could easily just upload the photo for each day and be done with it, not bothering to add any text, but in honesty, I do enjoy the writing, I just need to be more organised with my evenings. I also need to take opportunities to do some of the writing during the day, to take the pressure off a little bit in the evening.

Maybe carrying a camera around with me during the day will also help, as I often don’t start writing until I have taken a photo, and trying to find something to photograph can sometimes be the last thing I do in the evening before I go to bed, often keeping me from going to bed. A project 365 is, of course, just a bit of fun, but the truth is that there are at least 365 opportunities to screw it up. So far I have managed to maintain the project by taking a photo every single day, which is the whole point of the project, and it is so easy to forget and miss a day, but if I am going to do this properly then I just have to make sure I keep taking the photos. The key is not leaving it until the last minute.

Today I came home from work and had a photo opportunity just waiting for me, Chloe was sat in her high chair with pigtails in her hair! It looked adorable! One thing we wanted to try and avoid right from when she was born was cutting a fringe into her hair. It has meant that her hair has frequently been in her eyes, and we’ve had to keep trying to clip it back, but now her hair is long enough for pigtails so not only can she see properly, but she also looks super cute! We cut a fringe into Olivia’s hair when she was little, and have spent many months already trying to grow it out!

Today has been grey and miserable day, it has been cloudy and dull outside all day and it there wasn’t a great deal of light about, meaning the living room was a bit on the dark side. One of the toys I have to play with when I am shooting photos is a Gary Fong Lightsphere, a flash diffuser, which, without getting technical, creates the beautiful lighting effect you see in todays photo of Chloe! It has most definitely worked here, this is a photo we will look back on for a long time to come!

Day 103 – You know you want it

Day 103 – Jun 28th

Well that’s Wednesday done, and the worst of the week over with. Working in a school, everyone hates the arrival of ofsted, no matter how much you’ve prepared all year for their anticipated visit. At least now we can relax a little now, with just a few weeks left until the summer holidays begin.

Yes, yes, the six week summer holidays, they’re fast approaching. The holidays you only have to briefly mention in passing to anyone who doesn’t work in a school, and they instantly hate you and assume you are gloating and trying to rub it in their face. They all see six weeks off as literally the best work bonus ever.

Yeah sure, I am never going to complain about six whole weeks off work, its one of the small perks of the job, and lets face it, working in a school doesn’t offer many perks outside of the holidays, but this bonus does come at a price!

Look at it this way, outside of your work colleagues, none of your friends are ever free, they’re all still working. Then try booking a holiday anywhere in the world… yeah, that £500 holiday you just took, thats going to cost me £1700 to take the same one! Try getting a day off for a week day wedding, or the funeral of someone who isn’t direct family. I’d love to do more photography training for myself, but do you know when it all is?… yeah you got it, term time! Want to go on a stag/hen party, or just a week away with friends?… you can guarantee they’ll all be going at the cheapest time of year! I’ve had to miss out on a few before now because of how inflexible the holidays are.

I do love the holidays, although the reasons have changed in recent years, now its more about spending time with the girls, rather than just turning the alarm clock off for a few weeks. I’ve also been lucky enough to spend the last summer holiday and this upcoming one with the wife too, because of her “extended” maternity leave!

Onto todays photo, a shot taken from this afternoon when I got home from work. Olivia wanted to play on the table with her kinetic sand, so I thought I’d try Chloe with some wax crayons to see how she’d get on. They caught her attention for a while, but she was soon off doing other things. The hand in the shot was actually Olivia’s when she helped me pick up the crayons that had been dropped.

Day 099 – You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy wine, and that’s kind of the same thing.

Day 99 – Jun 24th

After a busy Saturday morning, we decided to have a family afternoon out and took the girls swimming. Its been a little while since we all went, and its nice to be doing it as a family, as it was usually just me taking Olivia. The girls enjoy it so much and Olivia has become really confident in the water, and has even started to learn to actually swim, rather than just splash about in the water with daddy. She can’t swim very far, or very fast, but she’s definitely getting the idea!

This took up a chunk of our afternoon, and led the wife to announce that because we were running out of time to cook, and had no idea what to have for dinner, that we’d be having a chinese takeaway tonight… I am not going to argue with that!

As the girls had showered after swimming, and had their hair washed, bath night seemed a bit redundant, so they were off to bed nice and early. This was my cue to think about getting changed and taking a walk around to a work colleagues house for their birthday party and BBQ. I was planning on staying for an hour and getting a taxi home, as I wasn’t expecting to know many people there. As it happened, there were more people there that I knew than I thought there would be, and the time just flew by. I warned the wife I’d be a little later home than I originally anticipated, and didn’t intend to stay too much longer, but then got talking to the husband of one of the women I work with. We had a surprising amount in common and suddenly it wasn’t just late, it was the early hours of the morning, and I’d drank far more than I’d realised. Time to get that taxi home!

Day 098 – Lets cherish this moment

Day 98 – Jun 23rd

The weekends seem to roll around so fast, and here we are at Friday again. The weather has settled back down to, perhaps, a little cooler than we may expect June to be, but at least we can sleep comfortably at night again.

One of the best things about Friday is being able to get home just that little bit earlier than the rest of the week, and spend more time with the girls, although when I got back today Olivia was spark out on the sofa. Oh well, its still good to be home early anyway.

The wife had to pop out to the shops once I was back home, and so I thought I would take the opportunity to grab a couple of snaps of the girls in the beautiful light that was coming in from the overcast clouds through the window. It might sound odd that a photographer prefers a cloudy day to a bright sunny day, but there is logic behind it. Bright, direct sunlight makes people squint a lot, never a good look in photos, it also creates nasty harsh shadows, as well as strong contrast that the camera struggles to deal with. Clouds, on the other hand, break the sunlight up, making it less directional and creating a nice soft light on people, also removing all the hard shadows. Todays shot of Chloe has come out quite well I think.

On a Friday night I never plan much, call it routine, call it laziness, whatever… I like to settle down with the wife, pour a drink, open some snacks, and watch a film once the girls are in bed. Even though it was supposed to be bath night for the girls tonight, we just didn’t have the energy or enthusiasm to do it, so that can wait until tomorrow, meaning that both of the girls were in bed by 7:20pm. Olivia is allowed to watch the iPad in bed on a Friday, so we can leave her to it for a while and get our film started. The wife is notoriously bad at staying awake, and so our best chance of her seeing the end credits is to start the film as early as we can, even though this is still no guarantee. Sadly, this mornings super early start from Chloe meant we BOTH fell asleep and missed the end of the film!

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