Friday 30 December 2011

2011, what a rush!

So we have but less than 2 days of 2011 left, 2012 is just around the corner. For many of us that will mean New years resolutions, Diets, Fitness fads etc.

So in this blog piece I'd like to take one last reflection of 2011.

To me 2011 has been one hell of a year, its been hectic and so much change, but change for the good. To be honest 2011 has been one of the best in living memory to me.

As I was driving to work earlier today I was thinking, as I usually do. I quite enjoy my drive to work as I don't work in conventional times so I don't get stressed by rush hour traffic. Instead I get a nice drive, get to listen to the radio and collect my thoughts. As I was doing so this morning I was thinking about where I was this time last year, in a kind of review of myself.

This time last year I was single, living in a shared house with 5 other people, 2 of which were good friends of mine and about to move out themselves. Work was going ell but I was eager for change and wanted to get a promotion to prove I could step up. I never really set new years resolutions, In fact I set one about 3 years ago and have religious stuck to it ever since, I set myself the resolution to never set new years resolutions and that if I wanted to improve myself I'd just do it, rather than wait for a new year or new month or new week. So for 2011 I intended on keeping to that resolution and set myself the goal to ensure I'd get the step up I wanted from work.

2011 started like many other years, I went to a party to toast the year in and went home to my room in my house share alone. Little did I know that in just 6 weeks I'd meet someone who'd change my life forever. By mid February I went on a first date with a woman, She turned up to the date wearing flowery pants and I can remember thinking that she was quite different, she was confident and independent. As the night went on I enjoyed her company more so and though this was someone I really liked.

By another 6 weeks we were an official couple and expecting the birth of our first child together. This obviously shocked us, but we were happy and bracing ourselves for a future together. Add into the mix my, now girlfriend already having a 3 year old child and already 3months into the year my life had drastically changed, but changed for the good, I was happy and after introducing my girlfriend to my family I remember one of my sisters saying that her and my mother had noticed how happy I was, like they hadn't seen me for a long time.

Over the next couple of months came many events and getting prepared for our baby. Most notably moving in together in between going to various music festivals and BBQ's. Then in September I achieved my main aim of the year in getting a promotion at work. This was obviously great timing with a new arrival on the way.

Most importantly in this year though, in November was the birth of my first child and my girlfriends second. It was a special moment for us and going into the new year makes our family feel complete. If you've read my previous posts on this subject you'll know with how much pride and relief this gave me being at the birth and how much in awe of my girlfriend I am.

Looking back on this year makes me realise how much has changed, how much I've had to grow up and become responsible. I am very grateful and thankful for all the elements that went into this year. I only aim to make next year better by continuing on the work I've done this year, ensuring I'm successful both in the family front and in the work front.

I guess to wrap up 2011 I must say this, Thanks to everyone for reading my blog, I promise the next one won't be like some terrible review show that you see on TV at this time of the year. And most importantly thank you to my girlfriend whose blog you can read here. She has been fantastic this year to me and has helped me get through the Ups and downs and everything. Thank you @peagreengwin I'm so happy beyond words and it's all down to her and I look forward to the future with her ever more so but I am pretty darn happy with the present and don't want to wish away the time right now, Live for the present guys!

See you all in 2012.

Friday 16 December 2011

Is This Christmas ?

So as Noddy Holder said famously, "It's CCCCCCHHHHRRRRIIISSSTMASSSSS!!!!!"

This week theres not much to write about. Except about Christmas. We successfully manage to buy a Christmas tree and decorate although E (the eldest) decided to help us, she couldn't quite get the concept of spreading out the decorations, and so for most of the day of our new tree the decorations tended to be on the bottom left corner of the tree as thats as far as she could reach.

Over previous years, I found Christmas was slowly slipping away from me. I love Christmas and all it stands for, but as you get older and have to work more Christmas gets harder to get into. I do love listening to Christmas songs and look forward to nothing more than uploading my Christmas mix onto my Ipod. Although this year it has been listened to significantly less. This is due to me not walking to work anymore, I live to far away so I must drive, and I must admit I've been rubbish at putting music onto CD so I tend to listen to the radio.

Also by this time of year I've watched about 8 Christmas movies, any guilty pleasure of mine. But again this has been hard to do due to a mix of working patterns and my girlfriends lack of excitement of watching Christmas movies. It's not her fault thats just not her thing and I feel bad subjecting her to it.

Alas, Christmas will truly hit home in the next few days, I am off work as of the weekend for 9 days, this will lead to visiting family and hopefully making a snowman or two. The thing that will truly make Christmas hit home and what I am most looking forward to this year is the Children. This is my first Christmas as a Dad. My step daughter kind of understands Christmas enough to be excited for Santa. T is only a few weeks old so we will be lucky she'll be awake for more than 20 minutes on Christmas day.

Christmas eve is what I am looking forward to most.  Previously as a singleton Christmas for me revolved around Boxing day, or Boxing day madness as I christened it. Boxing day would be the regular meal of Turkey, home cooked chips and egg that my mam makes and then at 1pm I'd go down the pub with my friends and not come home till around 3am. However now I'm a dad this year I'm looking forward to Christmas Eve the most, this year getting all of E's presents ready for her and most importantly before she goes to bed to watch my favourite Christmas movie of all time with her, the one thing I have to watch on Christmas Eve and have done so since I was a little boy. The greatest Christmas movie of all time, A Muppets Christmas Carol of course. Now Charles Dickens, famous novel has been hashed loads of time, but my favourite is by the muppets, with Michael Caine as Scrooge, I don;t exactly know what it is that makes me love this movie so much but I still find it funny, even though I've seen it around 20 times! I do hope E enjoys it, but even if she doesn't I will.

Having kids around this year will help make this next week feel alot more like Christmas, the excitement of Santa, the stories of Christmas and the opening of presents as well as the lashings of food. I can't wait to start feeling all festive and laughing at Gonzo and rizo the rat will be the cherry on top of the Ice Cream.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone.

Friday 9 December 2011

Paternity, shamternity !

Change, it happens to all of us. Now I could easily write another post about how my life has drastically changed this year, from being a self minded singleton to drastically changing to being a father, a committed boyfriend and a responsible adult. But by writing a blog post about this I'd just be re-hashing what I've previously wrote.

Change is described as..... 1/ "to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone:"

This can be shown in my life recently as the birth of my baby daughter T. Now for those of you who read my blog last week, you'd know that 2 weeks ago was quite an emotional day and I'm so proud, and I still am, and can;t stop looking at my baby daughter with a sense of pride. I also can't stop looking at my girlfriend in the same look and smiling at her for what she had to go through.

The Change I want to write about this time however is about having to go back to work. Now as most guys know, paternity leave for Fathers is shockingly bad. I had 2 weeks off work. This is quite annoying and seems some what unfair for Dads. I don't to take anything away from mothers maternity leave etc as mothers do deserve longer than fathers, but I think for a father to only be able to take 2 weeks is shockingly bad. It's not my employers fault, as they have been extremely supportive and have enabled my leave to be flexible and relatively hassle free, its the government who need to address this problem. They constantly go on about a broken society and broken Britain, and broken family life. Well by starting at the basics and enabling families time to bond together in the right circumstances this might start to help address this problem.

I mean think about it, Fathers are expected to bond instantly with their child in 2 weeks and that everything with family life is back and in a routine in 2 weeks! Thats absurd! I mean how are you expected to get the mother and baby up to healthy, 100% feeling and into a routine in 2 weeks. Couple this in with the thousands of visitors you have in this time, its nigh on impossible.

I understand that when it comes to working the employer probably can't afford to pay for fathers to be off longer and the state can't afford fathers to be off for longer but surely there should be some sort of gradual plan to bring fathers back into working, like going back part time after 2 weeks then full time after a month would probably make a lot of dads more happier. Even more so, if you have multiple children.

In our case we have a 3 (nearly 4) year old, and a 2 week old baby. How is my girlfriend meant to cope by herself 5 days a week. We can't afford to send eldest daughter to nursery everyday, due to everything else in life raising costs. And we don;t have any family close by to help baby sitting duties etc so we are truly left on our own two feet. True there are lots of free clubs and play groups but these don't run everyday and convienant times or in convienant places for a mother who doesn't drive. Public transport isn't the best for singletons let alone for people with a pram and a toddler.

I do hope for all my readers this doesn't sound like me whinging and being shy of work, on the contory, I love my work and I work hard in my job, I just feel that, as Fathers we get a rough ride in this respect. I know mums will read this and think "oh dear god no change , having him round the house drives me crazy" But at least it shows that at the end of the day, now I've been back to work for the first time since the birth of my baby girl, I find it incredibly hard to be away from her, I mean look at these photos, how could you not find it hard to leave this.....

Thursday 1 December 2011

Wrapped round her little finger

SPOILER ALERT - This weeks post may seem a little mushy, normal order shall be restored next week, I promise!

So it's been around a week since my last post, here did I leave off, oh yes thats right, my girlfriend was in excruciating pain as she as having contractions. Now as much as I'd love to go into the in's and out's of all the fine details about the labour and some of the events that occurred, I don't think it's too appropriate, purely because I have already discussed the events with my girlfriend and It has become clear that although privately between us we may laugh at certain things *cough* needle *cough* injection *cough* unpleasant place *cough* that these things should not be discussed openly in public, so I shall respect that.

So it's been one week on and gladly my girlfriend successfully gave birth to our beautiful baby daughter. Our daughter was born on Friday morning missing her daddys birthday by 5 hours and 34 minutes, meaning that we don't share a birthday but they are pretty close. I was present the whole time of the birth and saw my daughter come into this world face upwards rather than the traditional sideways view. I saw this little blue colour being come into the world like an exterestrial alien coming in to invade the planet. Infact thats quite a good comparison because aliens come to change peoples lives in the movies and conquer earth and nothing is ever the same again, and that is pretty much what babies do. My life previously was self centred focused on myself and now it has drastically changed to nappies, feeding, cuddling and more nappies.

As I started down looking at my daughter halfway into this world I was still unsure what this baby was as me and my girlfriend had opted not to find out the gender in the scan and spent the remaining 5 months or so having people say, "Oh what are you having" "Oh I couldn't not find out, I mean how can you get prepared properly" as me and my girlfriend grin through our teeth thinking theres more colours than blue or pink!

My daughter was born a healthy 6lb 14oz she was placed on my girlfriends tummy and as I looked at her she opened her eyes. From that moment I knew that this creature, no matter how small and harmless looking, has power over me for the rest of her life (although I'd like to keep that a secret from her for as long as possible) She already has Daddy wrapped round her little finger, and although she had at that point only just breathed and opened her eyes, I remain the proudest daddy in the whole world and will always be proud of this little one everyday of my life.

Fatherhood for me truly begins now, and I am looking forward to it. I thrive on doing anything I can with her and it will pain me when I return to work and have to spent 8 hours away from her! She along with her mummy and big sister are my world. I'd often say to my friends that when Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005, that was the happiest day of my life. That has now been relegated to the second happiest, as the birth of my daughter now holds first position, er wait I should probably say the day I met my girlfriend is actually second place relegated 2005 to third.

My girlfriend is truly remarkable for what she has done. I may have joked a lot and said anyone could do childbirth but they can't. Evey woman who does it is truly remarkable and I love my girlfriend ever so much for having to go through what she has. The outcome is truly beautiful our gorgeous little girl, and I'd like to say worth the pain she suffered. I will always look at my girlfriend in a different light for hat she has done and been able to do, and I'll love her forever for doing so

So my baby girl is nearly a week old, that week has gone way to fast and I can see the coming weeks, months and years going by even faster. I'll cherish each memory made with my children, take as many photos as possible, cherish every hug and kiss and I love you daddy as if it were the last, and I will set out on the path of my ultimate goal of being the best daddy ever. Because I may be proud everyday of my life of my daughter but I also want her to be as equally proud of her Daddy.