Blog Archives

Day 204 – It’s worth the sacrifice

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Day 204 – Oct 7th

A slow start to the day meant that I had time to indulge myself in the Grand Prix qualifying while the wife took the eldest out to dance class. Just a shame I can’t do this every Saturday! 

Once she was home and qualifying had finished it was time for us to visit one of my sisters, we don’t go over very often, so it was nice to head over for a change, as they usually come to us when we see them. My sister loves collecting vintage trinkets and ornaments, and this made today’s photo fairly easy, there was an assortment of things I could have chosen. 

It might be Saturday night, but no staying up late and drinking tonight, it’s an early start in the morning for the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix! Yes, that’s right, alarm set for 4:55am on a Sunday morning… out of choice!

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Day 150 – How can two children be so different?

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Day 150 – Aug 14th

I write today’s post from the comfort of my new garden furniture, with a fire in front of me, a beer next to me, and the stars above my head. Life feels good at the moment!

Monday we had the pleasure of my friends coming to visit with their baby daughter. Olivia just loves holding babies and playing with them, she’ll make a wonderful mother one day! I love watching all the kids grow up, and change, and develop their personalities… often wondering what they’ll turn out to be like when they’re grown up. What will their passions be? What will they do with their lives? Where will they travel? How will they make sense of the world as it constantly changes and becomes ever more confusing?

I watch my girls especially, to see what clues they’re giving off about what they will be like. What will they look like as adults? Will they still get on with each other? Will they want to hang around with their parents or head off around the world with a backpack? How much of how they turn out will be down to us, or will they be more influenced by who they meet along the way?

We certainly do have two very different girls, as I’ve mentioned before, and trying to predict anything about them is impossible. Chloe is so full of spirit and determination, so visual with her emotions, whereas her big sister was so passive and placid… although she is becoming a bit more determined lately, learning negotiation skills along the way that we haven’t taught her!

The differences between them are amazing, such beautiful little girls, with such different attitudes. It still makes me wonder how the two of them could be so different, but I wouldn’t change either of them! Not one bit. 

I am so proud of them both, I think they’ve made me a better person!

Day 139 – there isn’t room to swing a cat in here

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Day 139 – Aug 3rd

Rain, rain, endless rain, its like the weather has forgotten what month it is! Thankfully my plan for today involved spending more time in the garage in an attempt to get it into some kind of order. There is only so much I can throw out, regardless of how ruthless I want to be. Its not the most exciting way to spend my time off work, but a necessary task all the same.

It has been four years, almost to the day, since we moved into this house. It was the end of four months of a huge project to modernise it, rewiring it, plastering walls, putting in a new heating system, new kitchen and new bathroom after the wife’s grandparents had lived in it for many years before us. We moved in with just a couple of weeks to spare before Olivia was due to be born, and loved our new home.

In hindsight, we knew the house was a little smaller than we’d have liked, and if we’d been looking at any other house that had no emotional attachment to it we would have almost certainly found something slightly bigger. One of the primary reasons for buying this house was because of the wife’s grandparents having previously owned, but now it was sat empty, and this way it stayed in the family… plus it was on a beautiful tree lined cul-de-sac and we were only a short walk from the in-laws.

At least with this house, even though smaller than we’d have liked, we had a decent sized garage running along the full length of the house. With it being too narrow to actually get a car in, it made for a great storage space for everything else that we couldn’t squeeze into the house or garden. Today was a day to reclaim some of that space back!

If you’re off work over the summer, what plans are you making?

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!

Take a look around you

Take a look around you… what do you see? What is it that you hold dear to you?

I’m not talking about the shiny new 2 litre turbo diesel car on your drive, or the brand new top spec iPhone, and I am not concerned if your surround sound Blu Ray player has bluetooth or wifi connectivity. None of this stuff really matters in the grand scheme of things.  These things fade, and they are easily and often very quickly replaced. What matters is the people around you, how much you care about them, and how much of a difference you can make in their lives. There is a famous and very important quote from the recently deceased Maya Angelou, who said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

How true this is, and how we need to remember it. I am always mindful around my daughter that she doesn’t see me on my phone too much, I never want her thinking that I am not paying attention, or that my phone is more important than her. I know my wife does far more around the house than I do, and I like to say thank you from time to time, just to let her know that I do appreciate these things, even if she thinks I haven’t noticed.

So, what do I hold dear? These two people…

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This last week has just made me reflect on things a little, as I guess many people have. The recent massacres of Paris, and the less media covered deadly attacks in Lebanon, and of course the almost overlooked somali attacks in Kenya earlier in the year that left 147 university students dead, that for some reason just didn’t get the same media coverage that Paris did. All of these events were tragic and brutal, the logic behind them almost seems unfathomable, but we must not lose sight of the good that comes out of people who just want to help in those moments, in the forms of people risking and even losing their own lives to help, save and protect others. The security guard in Beirut, for example, that stood up and prevented a suicide bomber from entering a football stadium and killing hundreds of innocent people, and of course the name of a real hero that no-one should forget… Adel Termos, who made a split second decision to let go of his daughters hand and tackle a suicide bomber to the ground, and ended up losing his life in that brief moment, along with the life of the suicide bomber, and in doing so saving the lives of tens, if not hundreds of people who can live to see another day because of his sacrifice, and his family’s loss.

So what do you see around you? Do you have people who you would do anything for? Do you have friends and family that you love? Do you make the effort to keep in contact and call them? I think its a fairly accepted trait that none of us really keep in contact as much as we should do, or would like to, and yet keep bouncing around that same old excuse “but I’ve been so busy…”

Really? So busy with what? Are we all that busy that we can’t pick up the phone and make a call to someone that we haven’t seen in a while? Or are we suddenly facing the fact that due to how ingrained social media has become with our lives, we are now in contact with more friends than we’ve ever been used to talking to? I have a good circle of friends, and could maybe fire off twenty or so names without even thinking about it, even though I may not see some of these people for several months at a time.

Yet now with the likes of facebook, I suddenly have almost 400 people on my friend list. 400 people! How do you keep in touch with 400 people? Well, the simple fact is, I don’t. They may ‘like’ one of the many photos I put on of my daughter, and if I’m lucky I may even get a “happy birthday” once a year, but in reality I haven’t seen a lot of these people for years, if not decades, and possibly may never even see them in person again, yet I don’t have the heart to break the connection and ‘unfriend’ them.

I do like to consider myself one of those people who makes the effort though, and when the months begin to slip by, I will send out messages or make calls and try to arrange a get together of some kind, or a night out, especially as they seem to happen so rarely these days now that most of our friends, like us, have children. Children do make a wonderful distraction, but every now and again you have to relax, connect with people and remember who the person is behind the parent mask. It is still one of the best jobs I will ever have, being a parent to my wonderful daughter who continues to inspire me, and make me so proud and happy. 

Suddenly it all becomes clear

My life seems to be one long to-do list, of varying priorities. Somethings have been on there days, some weeks, and some far longer. Some are more pressing and others have waited that long, well a little longer won’t hurt, will it?!

One of the things I have put off forever is registering with a dentist. I haven’t had one for years, and thankfully have been blessed with some great teeth and not really needed one. Another thing I have put off is going back to the opticians. Each time I go I am reminded that my eyes will need to be retested in two years… Well that never happened, did it?! My eyes haven’t been that bad at all, and it’s only since I hit my 30s that I actually needed glasses at all. My first pair helped, and after two years I did go back for a second test, and my prescription had barely changed, which is how it’s stayed for a number of years, until recently where I have found myself getting mild headaches throughout the day.

Finally I have booked myself an eye test, and have found some glasses online that I ike, and to be honest, I wish I’d done it sooner, new glasses can’t come quick enough, and a second pair would be a real bonus. To be fair, I really got my money’s worth out of my current pair, I got a free eye test with Tesco opticians, and found exactly the kind of frame I was after for only £20. They have been sat on, dropped, twisted and bent by the kids at work before being retwisted back into shape by me, my daughter has played with them, and still they are in one piece. They are literally bomb proof, but now it is time for some new ones. I have to face the facts and bid them farewell. It is time to move on.

In other news, the rather germs Vokes household appears to be on the mend in time for Christmas, but just how did December get here so quickly? We’ve had a snotty daughter, my wife has had shingles as well as a nasty cough and cold keeping her awake at night. I’ve had a cough and cold, which aren’t fading away in any kind of hurry, but, we’re getting there. I’d rather be ill now than the two weeks I have off work! 

Yes, Christmas is just around the corner, the Christmas shopping actually started a few weeks ago, the cards will be written soon, and the tree goes up along with the decorations at the weekend. My daughter has started her advent calendar, even though it’s difficult to explain toms two year old that they can only open one door and have one chocolate per day. Clearly hiding the advent calendar between door openings is the only way we’re going to pull this one off. Little miss independent is very much into helping herself to things at the moment, and naturally that includes things she shouldn’t be touching! 

We have even begun watching the Christmas films too, as I figured that with the number of decent Christmas films there are to watch, just trying to squeeze them all into one week is never going to work! Plus we are trying to fit all films and to viewing around a demanding two year olds daily rotation of Disneys Frozen, and Despicable Me 1 & 2. The words minions and snowman are probably the most spoken words in our house this week. With Santa bringing the minions DVD for Christmas, I’m sure we’re just setting ourselves up for even more trouble and less opportunities for Christmas films. 

The other thing I am looking forward to is the inevitable countdown lists they put out on tv at this time of year. Shortly after I met the wife (which surprisingly happens to be seven years ago next weekend!) we’d spend hours chatting online getting to know each other, and happened to have a good laugh over the top movies of the 80s countdown as it was around this time of year. It’s a silly little thing, but watching them now reminds me of the time we met. Now look where we are, seven years later, married, with a house and a toddler, and number two on the way! How my life has changed since then! 

Every day I am grateful for everything I have, I take none of it for granted!

Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so!

If turning 40 doesn’t make you stop and realise that you are not immortal and the clock is endlessly ticking, its your younger sister who has a daughter that has just turned 18 years old! I am one of three, and I still remember carrying my youngest sister in my arms when she was born… yet last night she drove me home in her car! Not for the first time of course, but I don’t think I’ve been a passenger with her since she’d just passed her test, and suddenly she’s a natural, calm and relaxed driver. I suddenly realised quite how grown up everyone around me, that I’d watched growing up, had suddenly got to be!

The weekend wasn’t all just about birthdays of course, it started with a big day for us on Saturday, where we got to visit the hospital and have our 20 week baby scan. They’d do all their checks and measurements, and we’d get to figure out if we wanted to know what sex the baby was. Do we go and buy blue or pink clothes? Mrs V was, for some reason, hugely in favour of finding out, although I liked that we’d kept the first one a surprise and was keen to do the same this time around, especially as there was no benefit to knowing. We wouldn’t actually be buying much in advance of the birth, so coloured clothing could wait. All of the vests and baby grows we’d kept from when Olivia was born were neutral anyway, so they’d perfectly suit whatever we ended up having.

There was only three ways this debate was going to be won, firstly one of us nags and nags until the other gives in, but neither wanted to upset the other. Secondly we toss a coin for it, or thirdly we do something different and put it to a vote of our facebook friends… which is what we decided to do in the end, and when the votes stopped and we counted them, it came in at a majority of 25 votes for finding out against 15 votes for not finding out, which I guess is one way to end a debate! As expected, we arrived at the hospital perfectly on time, and yet ended up having to wait for ages to be seen (no surprise there!), only to be told once we’d had the scan that with Mrs V being 19 weeks, the baby was a bit small and in a difficult position to measure properly, as she really should have been 20 weeks pregnant, and apparently the week can make a big difference. We did ask about the sex, but apparently junior was quite comfy and contented being all scrunched up so that no-one could actually see and tell! The measurements and checks they do are quite important to make sure the development is progressing as it should, so we’ve had to rebook another scan for two weeks time so they can be completed. It also means a second chance for us to find out the sex of the baby, which is obviously still not guaranteed as they may not be able to see even if we ask. There are incidents (friends of friends etc) where they’ve actually got it wrong, and I know of one person that had to go back and return all the pink stuff they’d bought and replace it with blue!

We had a lovely surprise when this little madam was born, with both of us almost certain we were going to have a boy!

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I did change my mind two weeks before the birth, and genuinely thought it may actually be a girl, although I never told anyone in case it did turn out to be a boy and I looked pretty stupid for changing my mind! Trying to look ahead to the scan and finding out the sex, there are very few incidents of same sex children in either of our families, plus the pregnancy has been quite different to the last one, so we’re both actually thinking that there are some definite signs this could actually be a boy this time, rather than just basing our guesses on nothing in particular! Although in a shock statement this evening, Mrs V has now suddenly announced (2 days after we should have found out!) that she’s not sure if she actually wants to know any more!

Pfft! I give up!

So anyway, all in all it has been a lovely weekend, although it was gone in what literally seemed like the blink of any eye! We took Olivia out on Saturday night to support our friends charity evening for Cystic Fibrosis, with food and singing it was an aptly named “Curry-Oke”! So hopefully he’s made a bit of money out of that, although I don’t know how much yet. Olivia loved staying up late (we don’t let her often) and the freedom of an empty dance floor, we literally had to drag her out of there in the end! Sunday morning I was out looking after my friends little boy J, and in the afternoon we grabbed a bite to eat for my youngest sisters birthday, and had my niece over with my other sister in the evening when we got back, to celebrate her 18th birthday. It was all a bit hectic, but I got to see everyone I needed to, and catching up with the family is always a good way to spend a weekend! I’ve told my two sisters that we all need to be meeting up more often, we need to be getting some dates in that calendar, as waiting for opportunities can feel like waiting forever!

Next weekend is also going to be a busy one, but a lot of fun at the same time. A chilli festival, a take away with friends and a christening all to look forward to… is it Friday yet?

The real problem with summer holidays

Autumn is pretty much here now, the weather is certainly beginning to reflect that, and its generally a pretty nice time of year, the weather is still fairly warm and dry, the leaves are all changing colours, and who doesn’t love kicking leaves about?! Its nice to look back over a lovely summer where I had over six weeks off work and lots of family time with the daughter and the wife, a summer we won’t get to repeat as obviously next year will be very different with the arrival of number two due in the new year. One of the big reasons for looking back is that I am suddenly faced with a problem I haven’t really had before, in that all my current clothes, which were either loose fitting or a good fit, have very suddenly all begun to get tight at the same time! My six weeks off work has meant no cycling, as I haven’t been commuting anywhere by bike, and little running as I have had Olivia for most of the time. It has also meant being able to have a beer or three in the week as I haven’t had work the following morning, not helped by the number of lunchtimes I have popped into Greggs because I was too lazy to make a sandwich! The number of evening snacks whilst I have been watching late night films hasn’t done much to help my situation either!

Its time for a change! I’ve done it before, and I can do it again!

Back in 2012 I was lucky enough to marry my fantastic wife, but to make that even better we had an awesome honeymoon in California! I’d tried to lose a little weight before the wedding, but just couldn’t seem to shift it at any real rate. It was fine, we had a great day all the same! The honeymoon didn’t help the situation though, as anyone who loves their food like me, and has travelled to America knows how easy it is to get carried away there! I had two weeks of not caring, two weeks of “making the most of it”! I came home happy, but heavier than I’d even been.

Monday morning this week I weighed myself… I was even heavier! I had beaten my own record, and it wasn’t one I wanted to beat either. I was now heavier than I had ever been! Thankfully after the honeymoon, a good friend of mine introduced me to an app on his phone called myfitnesspal that he had used and had lots of success with, it was free and had a five star rating in the app store. I had nothing to lose giving it a go, but ended up losing a load of weight, it really worked! As it was going into winter by this point, I decided to give myself christmas off as a treat, to eat and drink what I wanted. Sure I put a little weight back on, but I felt more in control now.

Now the time has come to dig the app back out, dust it down, and start using it again. Already this week, by cutting out the crap, all the snacks, and the alcohol, I have already shifted a couple of pounds. It has already started working, so I just need to keep it up, consistency is the key!

As one of my 40 before 40 goals was to lose a stone, I made have to reconsider updating that to reflect this, and aim to lose a little more. Back in 2012 I peaked at 199lb after the honeymoon and managed to drop down to 176lb after I started using myfitnesspal, with my target being 165lb. I was pretty close before christmas got in the way and messed things up, it never truly recovered from there!

This week I maxed out at 200.3lb… and nearly fell off the scales! This morning I was pleased to weigh in at 196.6lb which was quite a pleasing drop to see from a few basic changes. As my friend said to me when he told me the secret behind myfitnesspal and his weight loss, it was a very basic formula of “eat less, move more”! So that’s exactly what I am going to do, and I am going to be posting my updates on here as a way of trying to keep myself going! Hopefully along the way I’ll get a bit of support and some motivation, especially as the winter creeps in! Can I get to 165lb before my 40th birthday? Its a big ask, but there is only one way to find out… lets do this!

Days until I turn 40: 252

 

 

Sometimes you have to look a bit deeper

The last few days have been a mix of good and bad, and one of the good points was the arrival of my new phone… yes, I finally have it! The iPhone 6 Plus gold edition, and it is living up to all expectations! I do get very excited around upgrade day, and after many weeks of deliberation I finally managed to make a call on which phone I wanted. I am not going to bore everyone with a review on it, you either like iPhones or you don’t, and if you do then you already know what it does! The one thing I have been especially impressed with though, is the camera. I’d heard numerous people comment on it on various youtube reviews and it really does deliver! I’ve taken a few indoor shots of Olivia and some outdoor shots on some crocuses that have appeared, and I’m blown away by how good it is!

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All three of the above photos were taken in the iPhone 6 Plus. As beautiful as it is, I was a little concerned about the size of it when in came to using the mapmyrun app and tracking the GPS location on my weekend runs, but thankfully realised that there may be an alternative, as a lot of the functions were still working on my trusty old iPhone 5, even without the SIM card in it, as all the apps were using the wifi. I was also pretty sure that the GPS function doesn’t need a phone signal and so would work without the SIM card in, and decided to test this theory. I loaded up the running app on the wifi at home and then took it with me on this mornings run where the GPS found it straight away and tracked us for the entire run while my big new phone sat in the boot of the car. I got back home after a rather chilly 10k run with my friend Rob this morning, and once the phone reconnected to the wifi I could upload all the data. It worked like a dream!

So what didn’t go so well this week then? Firstly it started with my first real injury at work, and bearing in mind I work with children with autism, the school actually caters from 2 years up to 19 years meaning some of them are adults by the time they leave, some are taller and even stronger than me! I’ve managed to be quick enough to avoid any real injury before now, but this week one of them managed to sink their teeth into my arm. Thankfully I avoided any hospital trips as I’d managed to avoid the skin being broken properly because I’d reacted quickly when I saw the teeth heading towards my arm. Yes, not quickly enough I know, but it could have been a lot worse. The surface injuries have pretty much vanished, and now I am left with a significant bruise, although I am lucky that I don’t bruise a great deal, so this is not hugely obvious!

Then there was the sad passing of the mother-in-laws aunt, an elderly lady who lived in Ireland, I believe I’d met her once, but not a bad innings at 94. I think most people would be happy with that! The main implication of this for us, is that the funeral is obviously in Ireland, meaning the mother-in-law, our baby sitter for three days a week, will be away for a few days and so Clare and myself will have to take a couple of days off to look after Olivia. I’m sure work won’t be especially thrilled about it, but they do understand and it shouldn’t cause any problems for them. Between me and Clare, we’ll only need a day off each, and as I’ll be taking Wednesday, at least I can give them a little warning rather than dumping it on them Monday morning.

Our weekend plans also didn’t quite work out. Initially we were supposed to be having lunch with friends on the Saturday, but they had to cancel at the last minute as their youngest was ill again. I do feel sorry for them, he seems to be ill all the time, and they just don’t seem to get a break. As a last minute alternative we decided to have the parents over for lunch instead, but certain complications meant that only Clare’s parents ended up making it over. Something small had caused my mom some distress, and knowing she has been a lifelong sufferer of depression, in the end I figured it was best to just leave it for now. Depression really is a hidden monster, made worse by the fact that some people don’t even know its there and can react really badly to someones apparent unreasonable behaviour or difficult attitude. Being armed with this knowledge doesn’t always help the situation directly at the time, but it does help with how you react to it, and it means that you can avoid making things any worse and know when to just step away. Sadly this had to be the case for lunch, but thankfully it was all soon resolved. We finished our Saturday off with a rare trip to the supermarket for some shopping as we’ve cancelled the home shopping delivery pass, followed by a pizza and a film. I took a gamble on the 80s classic Wall Street, which although I enjoyed, it appears Clare found pretty dull. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

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As has been pretty typical of the weather lately, Sunday started dry and cold, a rather fresh 1ºc, which made the Sunday morning run a real wake up call. As if running 10k wasn’t going to wake you up anyway, doing it in this temperature certainly did a pretty swift job of that! Still, even after last nights pizza and beers, I was up and out and knocking out a 10k run before breakfast. There is a sense of pride in just being able to do that, although it is one of the times where having a running partner is critical, as I’d have otherwise stayed in bed!

With the run out of the way, and Olivias nap done and lunch finished, it was time to head over to see my mom, and make sure she was okay. We knew seeing Olivia would cheer her up, and Olivia could get to show off her walking and dancing skills! We could only stay for a couple of hours though, as we had to be home in time to make sure Clare could get ready and get out for her night out with friends, apparently ‘bingo’ is the new ‘clubbing’!! How times have changed! I thought Clare would scoff at the idea of bingo, not go and join and become a member!!

One of the last points on tonight’s post is the fact that we have some seeds shooting up to mark the start of this years growing season. It’s too early to get them out and planted, as we still have a few weeks of frost ahead of us potentially, and historically we’ve had late frosts up to late Feb/early March for about the last four years. Putting these shoots out now means they’d either get eaten by birds, or more likely just die because of the cold. I just hope we find sufficient time to get over the allotment and keep it in check this year.

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It’s a nervous time at the moment, a rather in expected grading session during my jujitsu training session tonight. We’d been warned that we’d be graded for our next belt next Tuesday, but our Sensei decided to catch us off guard and spring it on us a week early. I was completely not expecting it and felt totally unprepared. Okay, so you might say that four years of training is preparation enough, but as the months go by the training gets a bit harder and a bit more detailed, just knowing the moves isn’t enough, getting the foot work right and perfecting the technique all become very important now, and we have so many techniques to practise that it could be weeks or sometimes even months between practising it once and then getting round to doing it again! It turned out that although it was a long way from great, the session didn’t actually go too badly, but it did have me feeling quite nervous. In reality there is little to be nervous about really, there would be other chances if I didn’t pass on this grading, but it is the brown belt that I’m going for, which is one below black, so it’s a fairly big deal, and the Sensei is one person you don’t want to upset! Our sensei likes to grade everyone on the same night and so those who don’t pass are likely to hold up the process for the others, this week we started our grading, and it will be concluded next week, so thankfully, unlike an exam, it doesn’t just come down to one session, on top of which our sensei has probably been watching us for the last few weeks, and we also have to consider attitude. Having the ability isn’t enough to go up to the next belt without the right attitude, attending every week, and being respectful to everyone especially the sensei count for just as much as getting the actual techniques right! You have to earn your belt through many factors and people have been denied a belt on attitude alone!

The distance and time of my jujitsu class means that I don’t eat dinner until I get home from training, which is usually just after half eight in the evening, and so I am more than ready to tuck into something tasty at that point, and for the last few weeks I have also been able to enjoy a bit of tv with my food, as I have been following the BBC series The Missing about a child abduction. It’s not often I find something to watch on tv, and thankfully I’ve been able to catch every episode, although next week it comes to its conclusion, which leaves me a little sad, although I can’t see how everything that’s happened on it so far can all come together in just one episode! I’ll be watching intently next week, hopefully clutching my new brown belt!

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