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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?

Day 131 – It can’t rain forever

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Day 131 – Jul 26th

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

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

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

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

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

Day 126 – Schools out for summer… almost!

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Day 126 – Jul 21st

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

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

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

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

Yeah, happy Friday everyone!

Day 116 – and the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down…

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Day 116 – Jul 11th

After a few weeks without rain, the garden lawn is starting to look a bit tired, and I’ve had enough of having to grab a watering can and water the flowers each evening, and then worrying about them if I forget to do it one evening. Well today started out damp, and apart from a couple of dry spells this morning, its pretty much rained all day since then.

As an adult owning a property with a garden, particularly one that you’re growing things in, its pretty much about the only time that anyone can get even remotely excited about rain. You may be cursing that your day out is ruined, or that you can’t hang the washing out to dry, but you can at least smile in the knowledge that your grass is getting a good water and the flower beds will love it. The simple fact is that this green and pleasant land of ours would not be quite so green without a bit of rain every now and again to keep it that way.

One of the little green shoots that had come from Olivia helping me to plant some seeds back in February was our sunflowers. They seemed to do very little for a number of weeks, and the shoots were no more than a few inches tall, then suddenly, out of nowhere, they seem to have shot up, and this week have even begun to open up! That’ll keep the bees happy for a while, and now the garden will start to look even brighter!

With the weather being wet, I ditched the idea of cycling this morning in favour of the motorbike. Sure, I’m still exposed to the elements, but at least on the motorbike I am covered in waterproof clothing! Made up for it with a gym session this evening, but now have come home with pretty severe heel pain, leaving me limping about a bit, and I’m not even sure how I’ve done it! Only hoping a good nights sleep will fix things, and on that note… well, you don’t get a good nights sleep from tapping away on your laptop while sat on the sofa downstairs!

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Well if there was any doubt that autumn had arrived, there certainly shouldn’t be now. The changing colour of the leaves may have been paused by the recent warm weather, but today has autumn written all over it. Grey, cold, raining, windy… pretty much a cyclists worst nightmare! The rain makes potholes vanish, the wind means you’re really unsteady and the fact that it seems so dark and grey at the moment just means it’s harder for drivers to see you (like they needed any excuses!). Thankfully, in terms of visibility, I’m not too badly set up, with a bright reflective jacket and some pretty bright lights on my bike. I invested extra on the rear lights as I really feel they tend to make a difference, I’ve been assured that I am very visible from behind and I find motorists tend to take me more seriously as a result. I certainly know that when I’m driving and I see cyclists with little or no lighting on the back of their bike I instantly think that if they’re not serious about being seen then they can’t be very concerned about being knocked off, and that being on the road probably isn’t the right place for them! With the winter months approaching and the darkness setting in a little bit earlier each evening, suddenly lighting is a priority again. I’ve even ordered some more front lights from Amazon just to make sure that people coming the other way can see me too, or that people in front don’t try changing lanes as I’m about to pass. I had given up on buying bike lights in halfords as the choice was dreadful, and the lights were just weak and ineffective. The front light I’ve actually ordered may not be branded, and it may be coming from China, but it’s got some good reviews, especially on brightness, and I’m going to give it a go! On days like today, being visible is crucial, the rain has been coming down solidly for about 9 hours now, and hasn’t showed signs of slowing down! It made for a very damp ride home, and my shoes and gloves are still drying out now, I just hope they are dry for the morning and the rain finally stops before we have to leave the house. Its fairly clear that after such a dry September topped with the fact that we are now well into autumn, we will be seeing much more rain, and I can only keep my fingers crossed that it gives me a bit of respite until my mudguards arrive to keep my feet and my bum a little bit drier. The worst thing about riding in the rain isn’t the actual rain itself… its the spray that comes off the wheels! With a bit of luck my mudguards will be here by Thursday according to Amazons estimations, although I probably won’t be cycling on Friday anyway, as I am going to be resting for a couple of days ahead of the half marathon, I may well be taking the car. Hopefully we should see the weather start to improve a bit in the run up to the weekend, the current forecast is for a dry day on Sunday, which I hope is true. Either way, I don’t think the new mudguards will benefit me hugely this week, but the weather can only get worse as we head towards November, so maybe next week I’ll be appreciating them more. I really could have done with them tonight though, as I walked into the house I left a trail of wet footprints across the kitchen floor tiles and had to go and change into dry clothes before I could do anything.

With the clock ticking I really need to be in bed now, we had another bad night with Olivia, still under the weather from her vaccination jabs, although showing significant signs of improvement this afternoon. Ate everything at lunchtime, all her snacks, and also had a huge dinner when I got home and fed her. I’d say she looks like she is getting better, which comes as an additional relief as I wouldn’t want to risk the nursery turning her away, especially as we still have to pay even if she doesn’t go! So we’re now hoping that she slips back into her old ways of sleeping through the night again, fingers crossed!

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“The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.”

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Heavy rain was forecast for today, and that was exactly what we got… all… day… long!! I opted to take the car into work today, I just couldn’t face getting totally drenched. I don’t mind a bit of rain, particularly when I have suitable mudguards and appropriate clothing, but with (still) broken mudguards and overshoe protectors to keep my feet dry that have a broken zip, I was going to be soaked through to the skin.

The wife stayed at home today, with my mother now unable to carry out the childminding duties due to unforeseen circumstances, we had little choice but to try and make alternative temporary arrangements. I can’t lie, it hasn’t been easy, and we are asking some big favours from people, but we don’t have many immediate options, and the longer term solutions need time to be properly investigated before we commit to them. Its looking extremely likely that we will have to explore the nursery route, which isn’t ideal and won’t be cheap. However, on a plus side, our nearest one has some vacancies at the moment and also has an outstanding ofsted report and this could be a great opportunity for Olivia to gain greater social skills by mixing with other children, which she does already of course, but on a smaller and infrequent basis, and also for her to have the chance to be more creative with art and messy play and the likes. So now its just a case of finding the right place for her, and getting the chance to visit a few nurseries to see if we are happy with them and see when they can get her in. I guess, as others had warned us, bringing up a baby is easy, but now the real parenting starts, when they start to move from babies to toddlers to children and you have to entrust other people to look after them and educate them. Now I really know what people mean when they say “She’ll always be my little baby”, letting go is hard. Does she really have to grow up?? In just a few hours from now, our little girl turns 9 months old. 9 months. How did that happen? I remember wondering where 6 weeks had gone, back at the start! Today my wife sent me a text message, a rather excited one, telling me that Olivia has now cut a new tooth, this time in her top gum! She is looking older and more like a proper little girl than a baby with each passing day! She makes me very proud, but damn I’m starting to feel old!

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“… millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”

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Thanks for the feedback on bedtime routines, I am pleased to say that we had a night of unbroken sleep last night, and we were very grateful for it, even if we can’t guarantee we will get the same tonight. Olivia seems very unsettled at the moment, obviously her teeth and gums are giving her some problems. Her first two teeth have well and truly broken through now, and I can imagine her gums are quite sore with all the teeth that are right behind following along. She’s not herself and isn’t napping in the day properly, and we are struggling to even get her in her cot without screaming and tears at times. Previously we haven’t had much need to administer calpol and wouldn’t want to without good reason anyway, but the last two times we did she was asleep in under ten minutes. This afternoon I came home from work to a weary looking wife who had clearly tried hard yet unsuccessfully to get our poor little girl to sleep, and it was the least I could do to have a go and at least managed to settle her a bit, but hadn’t quite got her off to sleep. We decided to give the calpol a try, as it is hard to work out what the crying is actually for, and we were honestly just assuming it was teething, but low and behold, five minutes later she was asleep in my arms! Result!

I didn’t have long at home as I was reminded at work that I had put my name down to attend at talk at a local school this evening, which I’d forgot all about. A local man with Aspergers syndrome was giving a presentation on life with autism, and as it is something I work with each day I decided to head down. It was very interesting, and only lasted and hour and a half, so although I had plans for the evening it didn’t cause too much of an issue, although I didn’t get to spend as much time at home with Olivia before she went to bed. Afterwards I had to head over to see one of my sisters to drop a birthday card and present off for my niece. I didn’t have as long as I would have liked to stay, but I did have time for a cup of tea while we had a quick catch up. The heavens opened while I was there, and on the way home I pulled over to grab a quick snap while stood under an umbrella. I could have done more with this photo, but time was against me, I knew Olivia would be asleep in bed, but I hadn’t seen much of the wife today. I guess some days are just like that, at least we have the easter holidays coming up soon, two weeks off work for me to spend with both of them. I only hope we have a little bit of nice weather for a few days out, its not too much to ask for!

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“The storm starts, when the drops start dropping. When the drops stop dropping then the storm starts stopping.”

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It comes as no surprise that the day started slowly with both me and the wife feeling quite tired. We didn’t hurry to get up and let Olivia have cuddles in our bed for a while. It was a nice way to start the day. There was only one real plan today, and that was to take Olivia for her first time swimming. Sadly, her poor little tummy wasn’t quite right and we’d had a number of nasty nappies in the last 24 hours, so we abandoned the idea. We didn’t yet have a swimsuit for her anyway, it had been my plan to get up early and buy one first. Eventually we decided it was time to get out of the house, and took ourselves off to find a swimsuit for Olivia, which thankfully didn’t take too long. We’ll try her in it next week and see if we can find some baths with a decent kids pool that isn’t too cold. While we were out on our little shopping trip, some dark grey clouds rapidly rolled over and the next thing I know the car is being battered by a hail storm with lightning flashing above us and the road turning into a real hazard. We were soon heading down hill and had to adjust our speed as the road was covered in hail, these tiny little balls of ice were not going to be our friends when we tried to brake at the bottom unless we slowed right down. Normally in the UK we find hail showers lasting a minute or two, but this went on for a full 20 minutes or longer and by the time it had finished, the ground looked as if it had been snowing! After we picked up the swimsuit our next stop was the DIY store to check out some home alarms as Clare was having some reservations over the long term cost of the ADT one that we’d recently signed up to, as we still have a few days left to cancel the contract. Hopefully we will get one installed pretty sharpish, as the recent break-ins in the area have left me VERY nervous about leaving the house unattended! My only reassurance is that the back of our house can been seen clearly by most of the houses behind us. The last break in we knew about was just a couple of doors down and they have big bushes all around their garden! My last job of the day was to pop to the butchers to get piece of meat for lunch tomorrow as we have both parents coming over. I spent a bit more than I expected, but I don’t usually buy beef for six people, and maybe I’ll even get a bit left over to take to work on next weeks sandwiches. Clare headed out for an hour to the evening service at church and left me with Olivia, who was asleep in her cot by the time Clare came home. We want to put her down in the cot just for naps at the moment, but as I type this I’m still not sure if she is coming back into our room tonight, or we’re going to leave her in the cot overnight for the first time. She’s quite happy there and perfectly safe, but I know Clare is reluctant to give in just yet. I’ll admit, I am too, but it has to happen at some point!

Day 358/365

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. ”

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Christmas eve is finally here, and what a full day it has been!

We headed off to see Scott and Julia this morning and their new little arrival Ewan, and after a cup of tea and a cuddle with the baby we headed off to see Richard and Tracy for an hour before heading home and starting to get the house ready for tomorrow. After a bite to eat we headed over to the in laws on the way to church for Christmas mass. Now we’re home, all the presents are wrapped and under the tree, the wife is preparing some food for tomorrow in the kitchen, even though Christmas lunch is my responsibility. I will be mostly catering for eight people tomorrow, thankfully no vegetarians! I’ve had to do that before… my record is Christmas dinner for eleven people, when I lived in a shared house, one of them was a vegetarian, just to add a bit of fun to the days cooking, as if cooking for eleven wasn’t enough of a challenge!

The weather for the last two days has been bad enough in the Midlands, and I’m just glad we don’t live on the coast where flooding has been commonplace and homes have been damaged. The worst we could expect today was “heavy showers” which arrived and looked like the end of the world! I took todays photo after one such downpour, and sadly missed the rainbow that followed it!

Merry Christmas everyone, with a Pass Out for a few hours, i’m now off to the pub!

Day 294/365

“The weather is like the government, always in the wrong.”

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With this years half marathon out of the way, I’m now all about the recovery. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be suffering like I am now, this one was hard, and I’m feeling it! Even last nights hot bath didn’t do much for my legs!

Taking the car to work was a no brainer, and the weather, oh the weather… it totally justified my choice! It has not stopped raining for a minute, and on the contrary, it has been pretty nasty today, and equally windy to boot! My poor little legs would have tapped out today! At least on the drive home from work I managed to spot todays photo.

This evening we met up with the priest to discuss Olivia’s christening next month, now all we need to do is find a venue to book for afterwards and work out what we’re going to do about the buffet arrangements! I’d better start thinking about who we’re inviting and get on with letting them know!

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