Tuesday means nursery for the big one, and just the little one at home with us, giving us a chance to get a few chores done. One place I seem to be visiting a lot lately is the local tip to get rid of garden rubbish and stuff thats cluttering up the garage, and today I was off there again, with more of the same. With the garden in a much better state and a bit more room in the garage, I am hoping to see less of the tip over the rest of the holiday!
From the tip I was off to the gym for the first time in a while, I’d been forced to rest up for a couple of weeks after a running injury, a pain in my heel that made it really uncomfortable to walk for a few days. It felt like really hard work today getting back into the gym, I hate taking time off as it makes it so hard going back. I need to get back into it, get a proper routine going. I just hope this rest time has been sufficient to stop the pain from coming back.
From the gym it was back off to nursery to pick the big one up again, and as it was a nice afternoon, we all went out to stretch our legs.
One subject that had fired up some debate today was the feature on ITV’s This Morning show on a couple who claimed to be Britains first “gender neutral” parents, an article on which can be found here. The mom was actually born a man, and the dad was born a woman but does not identify as being male or female. Fine, quite simply their choice! The nation, however, seems divided on the way they want to bring up their son, encouraging him not to see himself as a boy, but instead as a neutral person with no gender identity, and let him decide if he wants to be a boy or girl when he is ready. They are sending him to school in a boys uniform, but making him go in pink socks as a compromise! Is this child not being set up to be a target for the bullies? Does it really matter that much if he just doesn’t get it, and wants to be a boy like his friends?
The This Morning facebook page lit up like a firework with comments, and twitter nearly went into melt down. Of course, what adults choose to do or call themselves is one thing, but it should have nothing to do with the kids who just need a normal upbringing. They need an equal chance and to be on a level playing field with their friends.
I know many people, myself included, who have had a miserable time at the hands of bullies at some point or another whilst at school, whether it be a one-off episode or a repeated problem. It doesn’t take much for some knuckle head to think that his picking on someone is “harmless fun” and has no impact. But parents who line their child up with a number of reasons to be considered different do nothing to help with this problem. Is “being a bit different” really so important to you??
I think the majority of people agreed on one point, you just need to let kids be kids. Stop interfering, a childs life should be simple and fun, it gets confusing enough as you get older. Just let them be themselves and not have to worry about your hang-ups.
Some might say that it’s not our business, and they don’t need or want our opinions. A valid point, yes, but when they take their issue onto national TV to be discussed in front of millions of viewers, I think it’s fair to say they have invited people’s opinions.
The debate continues.
With the six week holiday stretching out ahead of me at the end of July, the one thing I wanted to do with the wife was make some plans to take full advantage of the time off together. There were things we wanted to do, places we wanted to go, and people we wanted to see. Without plans, inevitably, some of these things just wouldn’t get done, and I’d be going back to work in September kicking myself for not being more organised.
Some of our plans were quite simple, catching up with various friends, days out walking or swimming, or a drive out somewhere nice. Anyone who has read this blog recently more than once will have noticed my grumbling about the poor and uncertain weather that we’ve been having lately. This means that some of the days out we have planned will just have to wait a little bit, and we need to add a few Plan B wet weather options to our list of plans.
We had no plans for today, the poor weather had again put some of our Plan A ideas on hold, and so happened to take a last minute chance and check in with the parents of one of Olivias’s nursery friends, and thankfully ended up meeting them at the soft play centre for a couple of hours of fun with the little ones.
This photo wasn’t planned, I was just trying to grab a picture of them both together, and when they turned around, out came one tongue, and then the other! Cheeky little devils.
Parents, what are you doing with your little ones over the summer… especially when its raining?
A week off work should mean turning off the alarm clock, but any parent knows that this is a fairly irrelevant task, as those pesky kids have no concept of “sleeping in”, and I have barely peeled my eyelids apart before our bed is turned into a trampoline.
There is a delay at this point, a few moments where me and the wife see how long we can tolerate the sleep terrorists invading our bed and crawling over us like we’re some kind of fun, organic assault course.
The temptation of a hot cup of tea and some toast is a strong one, and escaping downstairs means the little ones have enough distractions to occupy themselves so that we can get used to being awake.
After dropping Olivia at nursery for the day, there was only Chloe to entertain, but with the wife taking her shopping, it meant that I could actually take a little time to use the steam room at the gym, something I had been wanting to do for a while.
I have been missing the gym recently, due to some sort of chest infection, on top of the fact that I somehow seem to have injured my heel, preventing me from running or doing a great deal of cardio. I usually get to the gym in the evening when I have the time, after the girls are in bed. I don’t like missing out on bed time and reading stories unless I have to, which means my gym session is often ending just before the gym closes, so there is no time for the luxury of the steam room or sauna. Today I thought I’d give it a blast, and see if the steam room could help clear up my chest a bit, on top of its other reported benefits.
With only one car between us, I was dropped up to the gym when the wife left for the shops, but had to make my own way back. Halfway, I paused along the bridge over the motorway to grab this shot. I had toplay with a few settings to get some motion blur in the traffic to give it a sense of movement, easy to do at night time with longer shutter speeds, but not so easy in the day time.
I found a little time in the afternoon to start sorting out the garage, it has been on the agenda for a while, and whilst I didn’t have quite the impact I wanted, I did make a start and have a few ideas on how to maximise the minimal space we have available. The six week holidays sound like a great opportunity to do so many things, when in reality they are gone in a flash, and some serious planning and time management is required if you want to get done half of the things that you expect to. Its no secret that I have spent a portion of the last few blog posts whinging about the weather, but its so annoying when all you want to do it get outdoors and it can’t go a single day without absolutely throwing it down! Yes, I know I can’t complain, I’m aware that most people don’t get that much time off in one go, but when you are used to it, you get used to saving jobs for then, and making plans to see people, go places and entertain the kids.
As the day draws to a close I can grab myself a beer, catch up on the blog and… wait, whats this? The wife has put Celebrity Big Brother on the TV?!? Oh man, I really don’t want to watch this, its truly painful… but who are these people?? Its the kind of show that the wife loves, but that makes me want to put the TV on eBay! I am sat with the TV straight across from me and I am trying not to look, but I am totally dismayed at what counts as “being a celebrity” these days, and my eyes keep being drawn back to the joke that is modern entertainment! So far half of the people who have walked in to the house were absolute nobodys who have had a vague appearance on a reality show, and are now being classed as a celebrity in order to appear on a celebrity reality show! It must get pretty awkward when all these so-called “celebrities” meet and look at each other, wondering who everyone else in the room actually is, because the truth is… none of them are famous enough to be called celebrities!!
At least I have the internet!
After half a day of showers, then sunshine, showers, then sunshine, I headed off out with to meet a friend and his little girl so we could take them both swimming. One of the many benefits of Olivia attending nursery has been her social development and in particular, her making a best friend, who she has seen outside of the nursery setting several times now.
I like to get the children away from any tv’s and electrical devices wherever I can, and so swimming seemed like the perfect option as I haven’t taken the girls for a couple of weeks. It was just Olivia and myself today, as going at lunchtime meant that Chloe would be down for her usual 2 hour midday nap.
The girls had great fun in the water, and great catching up with the other dad too. Olivia has come on leaps and bounds with her confidence in the water and her attempts at swimming. We’re going to have to get booked up for swimming lessons soon!
Once back home, after stopping off at the shop for some chocolates “because I did good swimming today, daddy!” there was a break in the rain, where the sun came out and dried everything up for a while, leaving enough time for me to enjoy the new garden furniture, which I haven’t had much chance to do so far. I think I will be appreciating it more during the evenings, with a beer after the girls are in bed. Hence the need to go shopping for a chiminea for those cooler autumn nights, so we can stretch out the length of time we can use it for! All the fire wood I collected the other day will finally come to some good use rather than me just lighting fires in the garden!
Having this feature put in has definitely made the garden feel significantly bigger. The girls seem to love it too, and with my new Anker bluetooth speaker giving us some tunes right at the very top of the garden, I think we’ll enjoy having a few friends over to enjoy it with us!
What a way to start the week, having friends over for dinner and getting to meet their new baby girl… finally! We should have met the little lady a couple of weeks ago, but had to postpone because of our two snotty little urchins!
The wife had made us a delicious lasagne, and it was nice to do something a bit different on a Monday night, rather than trying to squeeze all our social activities into a weekend. We got to spend a good couple of hours with our friend and the girls were intrigued by this new little person in the house, including Chloe, who suddenly doesn’t seem so little any more. Olivia was as gentle as could be, as she always is around babies, she’s so good. It makes me very proud! Just a shame it wasn’t a little hotter so that we could have taken a drink out into the garden! On saying that, firstly the weather forecast suggests the next couple of weeks are going to warm up a bit, and secondly, I did receive a delivery of wine today, the first time I’d ordered any online. Normally I just go to the supermarket and find out whats on offer, but I thought I’d try something a little different. Per bottle, this works out even cheaper than supermarket wine, and the bottles have been selected to go in a bundle, rather than just some random ones put on promotion in Tesco! The only difficulty now is trying not to finish them all in a week, there’s a reason I only buy a bottle at a time normally!
You know you’re living in the UK when you get up in the morning to get ready for work, and look out of the window only to realise that you have no idea what season or month it’s supposed to be! Monday could have been February or November, but it certainly didn’t look like June, and this was the week I had chosen to get back on my bicycle and start cycling to work!
Still, my weight has reached a level where I can’t ignore it any more, and action needs to be taken. The motorbike had been a pleasure to ride, but missing out on that regular exercise of cycling twice a day, five days a week, is starting to show, and getting to the gym once or twice a week just isn’t cutting it!
When I came back from our honeymoon in California, two weeks of beers and eating the American way had left me looking quite bloated, and my weight peaked at 201lb, which is a lot for my height. This morning I’d gone a full 4lb above that!
So, it’s time to change things a bit, I’m running out of jeans that fit, and buying bigger ones is as good as saying that I’ve accepted my new weight and I’m prepared to do nothing about it.
I’d also left today’s photo to the last minute and decided to test out my camera before I went to bed. I wanted to see what it’s low light performance was capable of. With photography there are a number of factors than can affect the exposure of an image, one of which is the ISO. Anyone who has used a film camera will remember this as the films sensitivity rating, the higher the number, the more sensitive the film, and so the less light needed for the same exposure. This works exactly the same for digital sensors, except we can push them a lot higher now. Instead of the old 100, 200 & 400 we had for films, we can push digital cameras into the tens of thousands now, so that they are super responsive to even the lowest light, at the sacrifice of image quality though. This one was at my cameras maximum of ISO12800, so it didn’t do too bad for image quality.
Photography lesson over.
And a big sigh… the end of the holiday is here at last, my week off work is over. We haven’t gone far, or had any especially exciting days out, but we have had a lovely time together as a family and seen some friends, and even enjoyed a little bit of sunshine. It had been a good week.
This was now a standard Sunday with the standard “back to work in the morning” feel about it, so all we could do was make the most of it. After the girls had woken up at the standard 7am, we managed to have a little win by putting on the Trolls film on the bedroom TV and staying in bed until almost 9am while they watched it!
We finally gave up and headed downstairs with the girls, theres only so long you can put it off for. Its no good getting breakfast ready at lunchtime, the girls make that perfectly clear, regardless of who we think the boss is!
Once dressed we’re off to visit the mother in law now she’s home and feeling a slightly better. The girls always raise a smile with their grandparents, they’re like a happy tonic! Unfortunately, one of them isn’t working properly today, the little one seems to be a bit broken and only functioning in small windows of happiness. We’re only managing to get through the day with an unprecedented number of hugs and naps. Whilst she is down for one of these naps, I take the big one off out for one of her favourite activities, swimming.
My only other task of the day is to head down to StreetBike to try and find out about replacing the front mudguard on my bike, whilst taking the opportunity to try some other helmets on for size, and enquiring about the lessons and test for the full motorbike license. The helmets aren’t anything I am in a hurry to buy, I really can’t afford one of the bigger branded ones, but I will be looking to get one when I finally get around to upgrading the bike, whenever that turns out to be. Todays photo was a photo from the shop, a couple of guys in their gear admiring some of the other bikes lined up outside, with the use of an oil painting filter in Photoshop. Making a move into the world of owning a motorbike does feel like you’ve just joined a part of a new community, one where no-one judges you, and even strangers are happy to say hello, welcome you to their little tribe, and lend a hand if you need it. Quite the opposite of being a car driver where everyone wants to get past you and would sooner spit in your eye than let you out of a junction! I certainly don’t miss using four wheels to get to work!
Saturday was another day of cancelled plans, and working out what to do with our day at the last minute. We were supposed to be visiting the mother in law, now that she is home from hospital, but as she wasn’t feeling well, we had to put it off for the time being, and so the day had become a blank canvas.
We’ve been a little restricted over the last few days as Chloe as has been more tired than usual and needed several naps during the day… a growth spurt maybe? Who knows!? So before we could head out for whatever we decided to do, we had to wait for Chloe to wake up from another massive sleep. When we did get in the car we headed out to a local area called Leasowes park, a little play area, a duck pond and a lovely walk. We can stretch our legs as well as let the girls play on the swings.
Last autumn, we came here on a slightly colder walk and I got a lovely photo of the girls sat amongst the fallen autumn leaves. Today it was a little sunnier, and so I wanted to get a shot that reflected that, but a 16 month old toddler who has just discovered how to walk, has no concept of why I want her to sit still for 20 seconds, and is already a little grumpy today anyway, had better ideas!
We still had a nice afternoon out, and also a chinese takeaway to look forward to that evening. We even managed to sit down and watch a film together once the girls were in bed, without Clare falling asleep! Bonus! She was straight up to bed when the film was over, but at least we’d made it to the end of this one.
Then things got a bit more serious…
I caught wind of the fact that something was kicking off in London and flicked on the news to find out that our worst fear was happening all over again. Another terror attack!
On a Saturday night in the capital of the UK, terrorists were trying to unleash chaos on the public, inflicting huge numbers of casualties and killing innocent people. It is heartbreaking, and especially worrying as this is the third attack in around a month. The British public have shown their solidarity for each other, and a bit of love has gone a long way. We won’t be beaten!
We were expecting a number of visitors today, our friends with their new little baby this morning, and my sisters and their partners in the evening. Sadly the first visit didn’t happen, as two tired parents needed to catch up on some rest after an evening of unexplained screaming from their little one. All part of the parenting process, and a stark reminder that once you become a parent, you only have so much say in how your day actually goes, you still have to work around the baby. We were looking forward to seeing them, but as we know all too well, when they baby doesn’t want to play ball, ya gotta do what ya gotta do!
On a positive note, the one event that did go to plan was the mother in law finally coming out of hospital, and now being able to recover at home. We are planning to give her a day to settle in and visit on the Saturday, I know she is keen to see the girls as they haven’t been allowed in hospital.
The rest of the day was getting ready for my sisters coming over for dinner, and of course the quiz I had prepared. I had decided to cook early so that I could spend less time in the kitchen when they actually got here. One thing I hate is inviting people for dinner and then being stuck in the kitchen when they arrive instead of socialising. I needed to pop out and grab a few ingredients, and so this was my opportunity to try out the new courtesy car we’d been sent. It was a small, budget car, and thats exactly what it felt like to drive. On a plus note, it felt a bit nippy and light around the city streets and was very easy to park. I won’t be rushing out to buy one though!
With the last of the food in the oven cooking, the first of my sisters turned up, and entertained the girls for a while as I got myself ready.
Then, with the girls in bed, and my other sister here too, it was time for food, which seemed to be a success as there wasn’t a single scrap left on the plates or in the saucepans. The quiz went down well too, and although it was just a bit of fun, it was nice that everyone took it seriously enough to play along. Well done to the wife on being a clear winner!
Nothing like a houseful of germs to cheer everyone up. With a snotty toddler in the house there is no escaping, she’s into everything and all over everyone, with what looks like two caterpillars crawling down her nose and into her mouth!!
So now we’re all feeling it, coughs, colds, sneezing, sore throat…
That made heading out to the gym all the harder, especially as I hadn’t slept great the night before. Am I just making excuses to not go? Maybe. I can’t pretend that I wanted to go, but there is difference between wanting to go and needing to go. Since I swapped cycling to work for riding a motorbike to work, its no secret that my fitness has been hit, and so has my waistline! Going to the gym is now mandatory, and so signing up for 12 months is going to keep me going back. I’d committed myself to twice a week, which hasn’t worked out every week so far, but I can’t let a week go by without at least going once!
So today I dragged myself out, even though my body was screaming not to, I knew I’d be okay when I got there. I managed an hour, although I wasn’t feeling so clever afterwards. It always seems harder in the evening, but theres just no way of doing it in the morning, the girls are up at the same time as us, and Clare needs help getting them ready. I’d get up early and go for a run, but this knee is still painful, and I am not going to be running far for a while yet!
I am needing more early nights, thats for sure! Maybe I need to look at leaving the motorbike at home more often, and getting the bicycle out again!