Day 125 – The end is in sight

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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.

Day 124 – Get me to the weekend!

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Day 124 – Jul 19th

Now I’m used to life on the road with two wheels, I usually don’t enjoy driving to work, it’s a bit different when you get to drive in to work in one of the minibuses that you’ve borrowed to take camera equipment in with. As we only have one car between us, I’d already deprived Clare of the car once last week, and as I had to take my stuff in a second time for more photos, I decided to cycle in yesterday and take a bus home with me. Driving in to work this morning, in a long, wide vehicle, in an elevated seat made me feel a bit more powerful on the road. You certainly had a lot more presence on the road!

The downside was that I had to bring the bike back home with me at the end of the day again, and I was not ready to cycle at all, let alone uphill, in the heat, with my bad chest getting worse… but I still had to! 

It came as no surprise that when I got home I was feeling particularly rough. I was tired, grumpy, coughing, flaking fast, and regretting the cycling decision. 

There was only one thing going to help me here, some sugar in the form of chocolate! 

Okay, okay… it wasn’t actually going to help much, but it would at least help me take my mind off things!

Day 123 – nothing worth having comes easy

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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 122- better days are coming

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Day 122 – Jul 17th

Some days you just can’t find anything to watch, seen it before, or just not in the mood… at least that’s what I’d like to think when I walked in from work and caught my daughter emptying the dvd drawer on to the floor! The chances are that she just took pleasure in pulling out each case and tossing it onto the floor behind her! Now if only I could teach her how to put them all back properly…

With the wife’s newly acquired bad back, it was down to me to look after the girls as much as I could tonight,which included bath time. I just needed a littl time to cool down in front of the fan, after a warm cycle home in the sunshine, before I started.

After Olivia’s full on party weekend, plus a trip to the park that morning with mommy and nanny, she was happy enough to chill out on the sofa… although the same can’t be said for Chloe who doesn’t have varying levels of energy, it’s either full on or stop!

It’s nice to relax once the girls are in bed, but this is not a week I can slow down, plenty of things to keep me busy once the girls are asleep and my time is freed up. On top of putting together a wedding album, there is a bunch of jobs that need doing in the garden. It was a warm evening and another sweat fest before bed, but we’re seeing definite progress now! As soon as it’s ready we’ll be able to order some furniture for it!

The garden should be a place for not only fun with the girls, but for rest and relaxation too. Looking at all the things that need doing and wondering where I’m ever going to find the time has not been relaxing, it has turned out to be a little bit stressful when I’ve actually put some time in, found myself busy the following weekend and then it rains the weekend after that, as I  watch everything grow back, and then end up repeating this process again several weeks later.

Positives to take from this? Firstly, I’ve managed to grow a lot of flowers from seeds, and the garden is looking very pretty, and the bees are happy. Secondly, the top of the garden that is being dug up, and has been a problem for so long, will hopefully be finished by the weekend, and after that the garden won’t need nearly as much maintainence to look good! 

Day 121 – I need to go back to work to get over the weekend!

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Day 121 – Jul 16th

Sunday meant party 2 of 2, and this time we were off to another venue that we had also been to before. It was a soft play party for one of Olivia’s nursery friends, and its always nice to see the other parents, as we don’t get much chance to speak when our paths cross so briefly as we pick up our little ones from nursery. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to take siblings with us to things like this, but with Chloe being just a toddler, no-one really noticed her anyway. The kids played lovely together, and it was great to watch them all interacting, as we don’t get to see that at nursery, obviously as soon as we turn up to take them home all interactions cease and they get excited about seeing their parents and going home instead.

After the party we had a little free time, lunch wasn’t needed as we’d been fed at the party, so it was off to the other nanny and grandads house, as the weather was nice and a walk would do us good anyway. Both sets of grandparents in one weekend isn’t bad, as neither of them are going very far at the moment, so its nice to take the girls to them. Little ones have a magical power to instantly cheer people up, that us grown ups just don’t possess!

The last time we’d gone round we left the girls little car there, so this was a chance to pick it up and walk it home. Chloe was keen to jump in, and Olivia was happy to push her, its lovely seeing them play together. Having one baby is an amazing, life changing event, but there is just something extra special about having two and then watching them interact!

With the girls finally in bed after an exhausting weekend, it was time for me to get my sweat on… with the top of the garden being renovated, there was suddenly a big pile of earth that needed removing, but as it was good quality, fertile soil that had had little growing in it, I was reluctant to just throw it away. So I spent the next hour sieving out the rocks and spreading it around the garden. I was honestly exhausted after this, who knew gardening could be so tiring?!

Day 120 – expect the unexpected

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Day 120 – Jul 15th

Party 1 of 2 for this weekend, and it would seem that our 3 year old daughter has a more active social life than us! The first party was at an adventure play centre not too far from us, some good friends of ours had booked it for the second year in a row as the kids all seem to have fun here last time, there is plenty to do, even if it rains, there’s food, face painting, things to climb and ride, and last year was a success, and so why change it if it works?

We were already having a lovely time at the party, but weren’t prepared for the surprise we got when the hosts took us to one side and asked us to be god parents to their new little baby girl, we were delighted! We would loved to have had them for Chloe’s godparents, but Clare had already insisted on siblings, and thrown into the deal we also had to have at least one catholic godparent too. Its so nice when friends consider you close enough to ask though. This particular friend was a girl I met whilst working behind a bar many years ago, one of the many bars I have worked in throughout the years, mostly throughout my 20s, but also one of the few people I have actually managed not only to stay in touch with, but also keep a very good friendship with, to the point where now we are both married and she is also great friends with my wife.

Its no secret that having kids can affect your friendships with people, and alter the dynamics of your relationships to either strengthen or break a friendship. Sometimes you will see some friendships just fade away in front of you, but the ones that don’t tend to stand the test of time. It definitely helps when your friends all start to have children too and you can suddenly hugely sympathise with each other on all the reasons you have for either being late, or not being able to turn up to certain events at all, as well as having plenty to talk about and great reasons to catch up, rather than just the previous carnage of yet another drunken night out where you didn’t even remember getting in at 3am with a takeaway wrapper in your hand. Of course, nights out are still important, but often I just don’t have the energy these days!

With todays birthday party out of the way, it left us with the rest of the afternoon free, and so we took the opportunity to visit my mother so that she could see the girls for a while, as we hadn’t seen her at all last weekend. The girls always love catching up with their grandparents, especially if it includes running around the garden, although it did mean getting home a little later than we had planned, but it was worth it!

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

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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!