Friday, 25 January 2013


As I briefly mentioned in the "year in review", we are having a baby!

For the last 2 weeks we have been in Canada telling Brandi's family and friends, and we even went with her mom to get a scan done! It looks like a little baby!

I'm very excited, and surprisingly, it was planned! So... maybe this will become one of those pregnancy blogs, then one of the many parenting blogs, and then the tired old bitter person blog.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Years 2013 Resolutions

Like last year, I am going to look at my previous resolutions and see how they went, and then make new ones for this year.

Just before the clock stuck 12 last night, Leigh asked me if I have any resolutions. Usually in the run up to 01/01 I have spent a lot of time thinking about the year, and what I need to improve upon. This year I hadn't. Maybe this time around I am a lot happier with the position I am in. Although I am, I usually feel quite happy, so I'm not quite sure why less thought has been put into it.

Last years resolutions:

1) Find out who my friends are and be loyal to them
For the first time in many years I think I have stuck to this. It is hard to hold onto friendships, and I often find myself clinging onto something that, though no fault of either person, has just faded away. There are people I want to see a lot more, but the friends that will stick around are the ones that you don't have to see once every two weeks, and even if you see just once every 6 months, you will be as close as ever. This year I've gotten really close with the guys I usually go on holiday with, which is nice. They are a good group... no venom, which is too common in many groups.

2) Try and further my knowledge in all areas
For the first half of the year I did a lot of reading (articles, etc) and felt like I had a good understanding of many things. Since September I've been a lot busier, and this had kind of slipped. I would quite like to find some RSS feeds from interesting websites and get back into reading more.

3) Notice when something is just my ego speaking, and learn to ignore it
Not sure how this went. Maybe people will think I'm quite egotistical. Possibly I am, and although I don't think throughout the year I would have gotten less, I often realise when I say something that may sound it (though I think only if interpreted that way).

4) Start caring about my appearance again

This didn't happen. Yesterday I went to drop something off to a car dealership in baggy tracksuit bottoms, and an oversized hoody covered in a mix of pasta sauce and milk. I put my hood up, just for effect.

This years resolutions:

1) Start being more confident and friendly
When I meet somebody for the first time I often feel quite shy, and maybe come across like I don't want to talk to them, which isn't a great first impression. Something Kristofer said when I was in Sweden stuck with me, about meeting people for the first time, and I am going to try and be more like that. Not only will I seem nicer, I think it is needed for my career.

2) Continue 'reading' audiobooks
I go in phases with audiobooks. I spend a lot of time driving, and a lot of that time is spent singing along to the same songs, when there are hundreds of years of books that I am ignoring. I love reading them, but it can be an effort getting into a new one right after the last, but this year I am going to try and force myself to almost right away (maybe a day or two of singing in between).

3) Get back into shape and stop looking like a hobo
Yep... I'm becoming one of those people who make the "get into shape" or "look good" resolution year after year. But now I think it's more important. At work I wear the same jumper day after day, and I am starting to get fat. This must change.

4) Try and finish some projects
Too many times I start things and don't finish them (eg, the damn website I've been saying I'm going to do). I've also started thinking I want to make a game again (I say again, I last felt like it when I first got into programming when I was 10). We'll see how this goes...

2012 Year In Review

The last few years have been better and better. Each year I have thought "next year cannot be as eventful as this one". And, while this year has been extremely eventful, for reasons that I will reveal at the end of this post, I think 2013 will be more so.

I woke up on January 1st at 4pm. It was already dark, and I was in a cold, damp house with nothing to eat. What's worse, my car was parked 3 miles away, I had a hang over, no coat, uncomfortable shoes, and I was hungry. I didn't mind too much, the night before was a lot of fun, and after picking up my car I treated myself to a free Domino's pizza (that I got from complaining about the previous one I had).

The rest of the month was mostly lazing around. Brandi had left mid-December from her long stay in England. I had moved back in with my parents who were good company and made it so I wasn't eating beans on toast every night (and it's always nice to be around my nephew and nieces who are always over there). Aside from moving the last of my things from mine and Brandi's first place, and pranking Dave at work January was pretty uneventful.

February picked up a lot faster. With the wedding was only two months away we were in the final-ish stages of preparation. I said 'we', but in honesty Brandi did most of it (and did it well). I was still moping around which gave me time to finally cross off "108) Learn to do Rubik's Cubes in under 2 minutes".

I had started to get restless in my career again. I had only been at SCH for a year, the first 6 months I really enjoyed, but I felt the last 6 months I hadn't progressed in any way. I felt as if I probably wouldn't progress. They have many people there who join, and stay for decades without really climbing the ladder, and that just isn't me. I think these feelings were started by all the life changes, and realising that I will need a lot of money, and if I let myself stay in the position I am I will never live comfortably.

At the end of the month, me and the 'cru' went to Plovdiv in Bulgaria!
For the weeks leading into March me and Brandi had decided we need to buy a house, and as soon as possible. It all happened quite quickly actually. Brandi had linked me a few places to see, and during a snowy day my mom and dad took me over. We didn't like any that much, and my expectations for what we could afford were lowered.

The next week decided to go and view more. There was about 6 places we saw online, and one place that had only just gone on the market, and hadn't yet been put up on anything. That place was amazing. After seeing it I had no interest while looking around the others. It was cheaper than the other places and much, much nicer. My mom encouraged me to put in an offer right away, in case somebody beats me to it... so I did, and it was accepted, and we went for a victory meal!

The next couple of weeks were stressful. I've heard it takes about 6 weeks to get a house through.... but I needed to do it in 2-3, or we would have to pay the stamp duty. I ended up calling most days to make sure it was progressing well.

On the 25th of March I picked up the house keys.

April was quite the life changing month! The end of an era... the era being "me not being married". Not so much the end of an era, because it's not like I was single before... but it is a definitive ending. If I had to choose a more realistic ending it would have been first meeting Brandi, but regardless... the last month of me ticking the box on the form that says "single".

The month started with my Stag Party. After getting hammered the first night, the second night was pretty painful... having to keep drinking shots while hungover, and not getting properly drunk off them, so still feeling self-conscious about looking like a dick. I think the problem is that my desire to talk to people in a club plummeted 100% from July 2010 to April 2012. I probably seem slightly antisocial, but it is the one main change I have noticed about myself. But anyway.. it was really nice to have the old guys together again (Neil, Joe, Leigh). We probably see each other as a group less than once a year now.

Later in April was the big event of the year... the Wedding in Mexico! Such a great time, and lots of reminiscing has gone on since! This is somewhat the ending of my "being young", and moving into a new chapter of my life. And, regardless of my not wanting to get old, it isn't something that I'm upset about!

With April ending the last chapter, May certainly didn't begin the next. After the wedding I went back home, to my mom and dads spare room, and waited for Brandi's visa to be accepted. If I am still using the chapter metaphor, May is like a load of pages between the last and the next. To pass the month I arranged Duke of Pwn, originally as a get together with Joe and Neil, though they both ended up backing out (though Joe came on the second day)... regardless, it was a great weekend with Leigh and Liam.

May wasn't all sitting around waiting. Somehow, the visa that was supposed to take months (especially considering the immigration rules were changing any second, forcing loads of people to quickly put in applications) was accepted in a few days!! Happy times! Though, it was accepted so quickly that Brandi hadn't prepared to come. But, using the knowledge, the flights were booked for the 16th of June.

The 16th of June came. The house was prepared. I had even bought a mattress (and looked gay with Dave as he had gone looking for one with me). I picked Brandi up from the airport (on time this time too!!) and excitedly drove her back so she could see our new house. She loved it, and, as far as I am aware, still does!

The transition of properly living together wasn't easy, it was easier than easy. It came entirely naturally. Aside from her not hugging me in bed ever, and would rather opt to wear many layers of pyjamas and say "its too hot to cuddle", all is great!!

So, the new "chapter" (last time saying it now) in my life had started. A married man, living with his wife. And I think I certainly look it seriously. That month at work I demanded a pay-rise, as my salary was getting to the point that I actually couldn't properly support us both. Brandi had applied to be a nurse, and we were waiting for all that to come through (in which case it would be fine), but I didn't want to rely on something I could not control.

July was our first 'summer' together, and well, we had very different interpretations of how it went. When I say we, I mean me and the rest of the country. My memories of the summer (even right at the end, so it hasn't fogged with time) was that it was dry, warm and happy... but apparently it wasn't.

Quite a lot happened. As always it was my birthday; a quarter of the way to 100. Me and Brandi went to our first festival, 2000 Trees, which was extremely wet and muddy. As for my 100 things to do list, which I hadn't been too good with this year, we found the found final geocache, crossing off number 113. And also, it was my sisters wedding to an awesome guy!

Between July and August I did a 30 day photo challenge, where I took a photo every day (week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4). I attribute this to my memories of the summer, as it made me look around for nice things to photgraph. Also, the olympics had started, so the whole country has in high morale.

We had our first Summer Playstation Night, which the kids loved. Brandi is very good for the Playstation nights... she plans a load of games and activities we can do, though she doesn't like them staying up late playing the Playstation after, but that is the origin of the night so it will stay.

From the start of the summer, a great guy I met in Germany (who lives near me in UK) had been walking from John O Groats to Lands End, the entire length of the country, raising money for charity. Brandi and I met him in Bristol, and I did a Morph suit walk with him to raise awareness.

The summer promptly disappeared in September. It felt a bit like "back to reality" (probably not for everybody else, who hated the summer weather). At work I had been waiting for a pay rise for 2 months. I had been told I would definitely get one... but after 2 months of waiting I was getting impatient. Then, one morning the news broke that the company that I made the website for (an online retailer) had been sold to a huge American company for hundreds of millions (after they looked to sell due to the success over the year), and instead of it being like "thanks a lot for your part in it", they said that whilst I have no product I'm currently developing (with that being sold), they can't justify a pay-rise. Obviously then, I promptly handed in my notice, but instead of looking for a new job, I started a company.

Starting a company, and contracting is something I'd been considering doing for a while. I'd researched it, and it just looked like work cheat-mode. I was slightly nervous about the future though, because it could all fail. I've always been very fortunate in life, but perhaps this would be the time I wasn't?

Before the end of the September, me Liam, Laura, Craig, Charlotte and Mike went to Croatia! Since Brandi had moved here we had started seeing that group a lot more often, which was nice, as they are all really nice.

In October I finally left SCH (my job) to become properly "self employed". I wasn't bitter about leaving, as the people directly above me were very nice and fair, but I don't think much about the people above them, or the company in general any more.

Thankfully, I was given a contract by a large company right away. I was then also offered a contract by a former company... so for a week in October I worked 3 different jobs. I felt a lot more mature, especially in a working sense, but the lack of time meant I had to give up my little hobby of my subreddit (which had over 20,000 subscribers).

Both October and November flew by. I was working... very hard. Contracting is a lot of work. Especially being split between two places. Each time I go into a place there are a load of things stacked up for me to do, so there wasn't a free second. Also, it is entirely different to being permanent. In a permanent job they don't seem to mind you not knowing something, and allow you to grow with the company... but as a contractor they are looking for a professional to sort everything out, and I was supposed to be that person. Daunting. Though, I think I did well under all the pressure.

Money was getting extremely tough by the end of November. I hadn't been paid since leaving SCH, and up until that point we were leaking money everywhere. We couldn't really afford to do a lot, but I didn't mind at all because I knew that it shouldn't be far into the future that we would be comfortable, and we should enjoy the (hopefully) last time of having to watch every penny.

December was a massive month. Work wise (start with the small news), Peugeot asked me to stay for up to another year, which somewhat stabilises our financial situation. With a new company we decided to get rid of the old Ka and get a brand new car (didn't necessarily want a brand new one, but it actually seem to make more sense financially).

The big news came in the form of.... well... Me and Brandi had decided that we were about ready to have a baby. I've felt like I could be a good dad for a while now, but financially I wanted to make sure we were okay. We started trying in October, and then on the first of December we found out that Brandi was pregnant! We haven't actually announced it to anybody yet (other than some family and close friends), but I thought that nobody would read this far down my blog, so please, if you actually did read down this far, do not tell anybody! The news will come shortly). I probably shouldn't even write it here, but when I look back at these yearly posts, it would annoy me too much for it to be missing such an important thing.

Anyway, obviously, we are both massively excited about it. Actually, as I sit writing this now, Brandi is telling me to get dressed because the midwife will be here any second.

Right... back to December. Christmas was awesome, as usual. The focus has changed from getting loads of presents (which I still do!) to enjoying being with the family, going to the cinema, playing board games, etc. Neil came over on the night (my moms favourite new tradition) and we played Balderdash and I drank Mount Gay Rum.

New years was also awesome My first one with Brandi. We went to a Murder Mystery night at this really nice hotel, along with Ash, Liam, Laura, and Leigh. It was done excellently. I will write a post about it later. Needless to say, I chose the wrong person, along with most people except Ash.

So... that is the year! And a really good one. I have been forced into 'maturity', but not quite kicking and screaming, and I suppose not quite forced! The next year will be really interesting, and hopefully awesome!