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 119 – A change is as good as a rest

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Day 119 – Jul 14th

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

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

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

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

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

Day 113 – Take time to remember who you are

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Day 113 – Jul 8th

Up early on a Saturday morning (irony – there is no such thing when you have small children!) to take the car for more repairs, this time it was only something small, but not especially cheap considering, the size of the part and the time it took to fit it. The boot (trunk for anyone in the US) wouldn’t shut properly, and so with a new lock finally fitted, we could now carry on with the rest of the weekend.

Todays photo was took on the drive back home from the mechanic, a shot of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, or simply the QE as most people living in Birmingham know it as. Described as a super hospital when it was being built, this £545m monster, holding over 1200 beds and 32 theatres opened in 2010, and is easily visible from many parts of Birmingham. I always think the instantly recognisable exterior looks rather majestic and elegant and it always makes me smile when we drive past, as both our girls were born here, taking me back to afternoons spent pacing the corridors feeling extremely flustered!

I had wanted to grab a photo early on in the day, while I had the chance, as I was heading out into town to meet a couple of work friends for a burger and a few beers in the afternoon, and had no intention of taking my camera with me. Sure I could have got an interesting photo, but then again I also could have unintentionally had one too much drinks and either dropped my camera or left it somewhere!

It was nice to catch up with some old friends and some newer friends, as I don’t get much chance to socialise with work colleagues, but a few drinks in the afternoon was easy to do. With the expansion of the school I work in, we have so many more staff and I don’t always get to hear about nights out, as they often tend to happen in smaller groups rather than big staff nights out like they used to be, back in the early days, when it was a much smaller place to work. I just had to make sure I didn’t overdo things this afternoon, as I intended to get home before the girls went to bed, and didn’t want to turn up in a bit of a state. Drunk daddy isn’t a good look! The weekends are about spending time as a family, especially to spend time with the girls, and I already felt a little guilty for ditching them in favour of an afternoon drink with friends, I didn’t need to feel guilty about coming home clearly drunk, that I can save for when the girls are fast asleep in bed! I was lucky enough to get a lift in from my wonderful wife, saving me the effort of catching a bus or having to call a taxi, but she really excelled herself and even came out to pick me up when I was ready to leave. Its nice to feel supported when, in fact, I felt like I should perhaps have been at home spending time with the girls instead. I have the best wife!

Day 106 – There’s a party goin’ on

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Day 106 – Jul 1st

The first of two birthday BBQs, today was the brother in laws 40th, and the sun was out. Both food and booze was not in short supply, so no-one went without, and overdoing things became a very real probability. I tried to take it easy, but afternoon drinking is a surefire way to make poorer and poorer decisions as the day goes on! You become less able to recognise or even care about your limits.

I had to be somewhat careful though, with the following day being the wife’s birthday, I could not wake up hung over and, having spent half the morning in bed, I had certain responsibilities, as a husband and father. Cards and presents needed to be delivered to the bedroom!

Sadly the excess consumption did catch up with me, and the middle of the night acid reflux scenario reared its ugly head again, a sure sign that I had overdone things. It meant a rough nights sleep, especially considering we had no antacid medication left in the house.

Day 105 – The birthday weekend begins here

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Day 105 – Jun 30th

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

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

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

Bring on the sunshine and BBQs!

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

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Day 99 – Jun 24th

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

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

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