Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I'm going to leave the office in half an hour... and I am not going to come back into it until 4th January.

That feels good to say.

This is the first year in many I have decided to take the entire festive season as a break and do no work whatsoever.

Well, I may get the occasional call or need to respond to an email or similar but no "real work."

So consider this my "have a great holiday season" post as I am unlikely to be blogging over the festive season. We have family over from abroad and a lot going on... and the little guys are all excited about Santa coming. Then between Christmas and New Year it's my son's 7th birthday, so we have lots happening.

So to all of you, I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas filled with fun, turkey and (most importantly) lots of love!

Here's to 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Passing Time or Filling Time?

The difference between passing time and filling minutes has been something I have come to grips with this year.

I've truly found that Fatherhood has taught me to fill each minute with memories and reasons to smile, rather than to wile away the time waiting for the sparsely distributed events of the year.

My Mother never used to ask me, "What did you learn at school today?" when I was a child. Instead she would ask, "What made you smile today?" And if I answered, "Nothing," or "I don't know" then she would tell me, "Adam, then you've wasted your minutes."

I've picked up that habit of asking my little boy questions like that. He looks at me with the same blank stare I am sure that I looked at my Mother with when I was his age.

Another habit I have picked up is the "ego box." My Mother used to take all the nice things people said about myself and my sister and write them on individual pieces of paper. We had a box each in which she would put these bits of paper. It could be snippets from school reports or something that a family friend had said. And on bad days or days (like we all have) where we had a downer on ourselves or were not feeling so sure of ourselves, she used to hand us the boxes and tell us "take a compliment." We'd then read them out loud. She had me do that until I was 19 or so.... I never understood the value of it until I was in my teens.

I do the same with my son now. Sometimes we all need reminding of the nicer things people think about us....

But I digress. I suppose 2010 has been entirely transitional for me in many ways. I have, though, thanks to my beautiful little boy and my stunning fiancee, learnt how to stop passing time and to start filling it instead.

Life's a gift :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

My Parents' Wedding Rings

My sister wears the engagement ring my Mother wore. It's beautiful.

When Carlos came to me and asked my permission to propose to her, I wholeheartedly consented on the condition he took the ring, had it reduced slightly in size to fit my sister's finger and used that ring.

He did so. She wears it now with beaming pride.

My sister and I were discussing my forthcoming wedding yesterday afternoon.

"Are you going to wear Mum and Dad's rings?" she asked.

"I thought you and Carlos should take them?"

"No...." she said. "You and Chloe should wear them. I've got the engagement rings. It's fitting that you should take the wedding rings."

So this morning before I left for to take my son to school (his last day before the Christmas holidays), I took them carefully out and tried my Father's for size. An absolute perfect fit. I have a feeling my Mother's will be the right size for Chloe but she's really very superstitious about trying these before the wedding lol and so we will find out on the day. I'm quite convinced it will be just right though.

"What are you doing?" my son asked as he picked his school back.

"Trying on my Dad's wedding ring." I told him. "This and my Mum's will be the wedding rings me and Chloe wear when we get married."

"I bet they're lucky rings," he said, peering into the box containing my Mother's.

"What makes you say that?" I asked.

"Because your Mum and Dad will be together forever now won't they?"

He says such beautiful things at just the right time...without even realising he does it.

Christmas Times Three


Last night was beautiful. We all sat on the couch reading Christmas stories and my son then volunteered to tell Chloe and myself about the Russian Christmas figure, Babushka (literally translated as Grandmother).

I knew little about Babushka prior to this and so was fascinated to listen to him recount the tales he remembers being told by his Mother.

"Babushka," he began, "was supposed to go and see Jesus with the three wise men. But the weather was really bad and cold so she decided not to go."

I had never heard this tale before, for all my reading up of Russian festivities.

"But then she felt sorry that she hasn't gone," he continued, "So she tried to catch them up and find him. On the way she gathered lots of presents for Baby Jesus. But she didn't find him. And that's why she first gave presents to all the children in Russia. Because she had Jesus' presents and couldn't find him. And now she comes back every year and gives presents out in Russia."

"And Santa too?" Chloe asked

"No in Russia Santa doesn't come. That's where Babushka works."

"I see," Chloe continued.

"But she comes later than Santa, on 7th January," he told her.

"What's about Russian children who don't live in Russia?" Chloe furthered.

"Well, last year the Three Kings left presents on 6th January and Babushka too on the 7th January."

He's right. We do observe all three. Santa, Three Kings (Argentine) and Babushka. My son gets no more presents than he would if we were only celebrating the one day. But they are split out. He will get the bulk on Christmas morning (25th December) but will then get a couple of gifts on 6th and 7th Jan respectively as we observe the Argentine and Russian traditions of our respective heritages.

"Because," my son continued with his tale, "Babushka, the Kings and Santa know that I am from 3 different places really, so they share the work for me."

I like his outlook.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lessons from 2010

5 Lessons from a Tough Year

It's always this time of year that we begin to reflect. We consider what we achieved in the year, what we lost in the year and what we gained.

It's been a turbulent 2010. I lost a close friend recently to a tragic car accident. I lost relationships/friendships with people during this year. But for the first time in many years, I am ending the year reflecting more on the positive that came out of it.

I gained a Fiancee. I strengthened my relationship with my son to the point of being unbreakable. And, more to the point, I learn some valuable lessons that will stay with me for the rest of my life and help me to avoid mistakes of the past in the future years.

Here's just some of those lessons:

1) Staying silent does not make it any less real. I have never been good at vocalising how I feel about something. Extremes of negative emotion have often manifested themselves in other ways with me - excessive stress, moodiness or even ill health. At the beginning of this year I sought help, having been a cynic of such help for as long as I can remember. The first few months were just unbelievably hard. It's like my counsellor prodded the sleeping lions and suddenly I was dealing with feelings I forgot I even had - a lot of them and all at once. It was incredibly tough. I'm still having sessions every other week and I find it much easier these days. I've learn that it's ok to say, "Ouch... this fucking hurts like hell." It's alright to let people see that you are upset. I've learnt I do my family no favours by adopting the very British "stiff upper lip" pose. Human emotion is as natural as breathing.

2) Unconditional love is real. I've never believed in unconditional love. I've always assumed there was a clause to every connection of love between people. But this year is the first complete year I have had my son living with me. He's been grieving his Mother who passed away in october 2009 and it was a tough year for him. But to take the silver lining, he and I are so close now. And he taught me that unconditional love is a very real thing. There is nothing that boy could do to make me love him even an ounce less than I do. The same applies to my sister and to Chloe. Nothing could make me love them any less...

3) Silence is louder than screaming sometimes. Sometimes there is just no need for venemous words or fighting and silence speaks more volumes than anything else. Plus... with silence, you damage nothing. And perhaps when the clouds have lifted there is a possibility of repairing what was broken, not to a place where it was precisely what it was before... but at least to polish it up to something equally as important.

4) There's no such thing as "too busy." Granted, we can find ourselves completely bogged down with work and other commitments sometimes. But if something is important enough, you make time for it. Even if it takes special planning and it might only be a few minutes, even if it means getting up 5 minutes earlier or going to bed 5 minutes later, if something is important enough you simply have to find a way to make it fit into your day.

5) There's nothing as important as family. I've come to appreciate my family so much this year. It got a bit disjointed following the death of my Mother several years ago. But we've rebuilt it... the "next generation," if you will... and it's the fundamental source of life for me.

It's been a valuable learning year, very much a transitional year with ups and downs. But the future is looking sunny (despite the layer of ice on the ground outside) :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

To My Sister

You’re stronger than you know you are,
With soldier’s soul and woman’s heart,
With strength and gall to brave the grief,
You’re braver than you once believed.

Dear Stacey

When I watched you cradling him just a day after becoming a Mother, I knew immediately that everything was ok now. You’re a Mother like our own, with the same strong morals and beliefs, the same determination to keep him safe and the same intuition.

It’s true what they say. Mothers really are the wisest people on the planet. I see it in you.

You’re a Mother first and foremost in life and it’s a role that seems almost as though it was made for you. But you are also a wonderful sister to me, an amazing friend to so many and I know Carlo believes you also make the perfect soul mate.

And you’re also a daughter. Just because our parents aren’t here, that makes you no less a daughter. You’re a daughter who faces the same challenges every single day – to wake up with an aching heart and I know you do. I know. I know it acutely and I know it when I look in your eyes and I know it when your voice shakes at this time of year when trying to avoid talking about the things that happened. You’re still a daughter, Stacey. You don’t have to pretend not to be.

And I’m here. You talk to me sometimes, but perhaps fear that I can’t handle what you need to say, or the tears you need to cry... it puts you off. I see that too.

I am here. And even if all I can do is listen, hug you and hand you a tissue, let me.

This Christmas will be the best in years. We’ll make sure of it. We have two little men there who are going to have the best day of their lives and don’t they just make everything worthwhile?

Here’s to Christmas, Stace... and an awesome 2011 in store.

Love Adam

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Changes :)

I spent an amazing few days in Iceland. We got one really clear "Northern Lights" viewing night and it was the most humbling experience. It makes you feel so small when you see something as phenomenal as that dominating the night sky. Nature is really very incredible.

My son, Chloe and I had a great relaxation session I feel all the better for it.

I took some time to reflect on the year and decided that, aside from a couple of really major upsets, much of what has had be down for some of the year is stuff I could have avoided by spending a little less time engaged on a personal level virtually.... and as such, I am letting my freebie store in SL go. In fact, I already have. Literally the only reason I log in these days is to pay tier and when it expired this time, I decided just to let that go. I'm just not in world enough to justify it any more and I have no desire to be in world.

I took some time to reflect on the lessons of the year. I learnt a lot... about myself, how others react to me and about others too. But everything is ending on a high.

And not just for me either. It's been a difficult 2010 for a lot of people I know, but for many, it's ending well. My best friend will be married very soon to someone who has completely transformed his life. I will be married in May. My sister will be married not long after and it's just a truly incredible feeling. There are former friends I care silently for who, I believe, are finding happiness too... in the form of new loves or whole new families in some cases. And these happy things are so, so well deserved.

2010 has been a year of change. 2011 will be a year of enjoying what came as a result. And long may the smiles continue.

Today, I'm listening to Biffy Clyro....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


You dance across the sky

In shades of green and I

Look up and I wonder

Who dances there and why?

Spirits of the gone,

Souls of the lost,

Swimming across a galaxy

And simply watching us.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Being Dad

Being a Father is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Everyone says that, right? And everyone means it. I've had my son living with me for over a year now and I have known about him for almost 3 years (having been told nothing of his existence until he was 4). Time flies. But 2010 has been a year where I've really come into my own as a parent. He's lived with me for the whole year. He lost his Mother towards the end of 2009 and so this year was about he and I doing it for ourselves.

And while it's been such a tough year in many respects, it's been amazing insofar as how he and I have developed as a "Father and Son pairing." The first few months I knew my boy, as he was getting to know me and I was learning the ropes, I still didn't feel like a "Dad." I knew I was one and I knew I loevd him more than I had ever loved anyone or anything in my entire life... but I don't think I truly felt like a Dad.

Now, if someone asks me about myself, the first thing I tell them is that I am a Father to a wonderful little boy. And it rolls off the tongue. It's the first thing I think to tell people about myself and it's the most important role I play in the world. This year, he and I have grown incredibly close. I no longer feel like the twenty-something sort-of-a-man-but-who-often-behaves-like-a-teenager-trying-to-be-a-Father type of guy. I AM a Father.

And he is the most wonderful gift I have ever received.

Everyone comments that he's a "mini me." He has a lot of my mannerisms. And I find myself saying to him things my Mother used to say to me (thinks I swore I never would lol)... like "Have you done your homework." Or, "take the coats for the ladies." Or, "Hold the doors for the ladies," or "Look at the state of your school pants? Do you skid along the floor in these things?"

I wasn't the easiest child to parent, by all accounts. I had an answer for everything and was very cheeky. Though I was brought up so well that even with the cheek, I was truly a little Gentleman. Those values were instilled heavily into me and it's something I remain so thankful to my Mother for. Old fashioned chivalry is disappearing and it's sad to see. But I know there were days my Mother could have torn her hair out with me. If she were here now and could see my son she would laugh. Karma?

Because he's brilliant. He really does have an answer for everything. He's got this cheeky little smile and he knows he gets away with murder with it. He's got charm. He can get people (especially women) on his side in almost everything.

My sister found some old photographs of us as kids. On one of them, I am 8 years old and it's like looking at my son now. He has a slightly fairer complex than I do... his Mother having been very pale skinned. But he has the same eyes as I do. Exactly the same. And when he smiles he looks like I do on that photograph, albeit that he certainly has his Mother's chin.

We were standing outside my sister's house the other day, as she went back inside to get the things she forgot. She came back out laughing.

"What?" I asked, feeling cold and impatient.

"You two have the same 'impatient grumpy pose'."

We do.

In fact, he stands like me. He uses his arms (just the one at the moment as one is casted up and in a sling) the way I do when I talk. He nods the same way and he even has the same weird dislike of socks I have.

It's so funny to see.

But I'm waffling, aren't I?

This (somewhat long) post, was just an opportunity for me to indugle myself with a "oh god I'm so lucky." It was just a post in which I wanted to tell whoever happens to find it how proud I am of my little guy.

Anything in life that I previously could not understand the purpose of, fits into place with him around. His excitement, his laughter, his smile, the dimples he gets in his cheek when he grins, the face he makes when I know he's up to something... how he insists on dressing up in his business suit if he is coming into my office for a little while... all of his quirks, all that he is and all that he will be, I love.

I love him unconditionally. I never really understood what that meant before but there is cateogrically nothing that he could do that would make me stop loving him. I'd give my life for him without even thinking about it. I would give anything for him. He's my whole world in one tiny little pint sized genius and, just in case it wasn't clear enough, I might just the proudest Daddy on the world.

I love you, son.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

To the Mother of my Child

To the Mother of my Son

I've been thinking about you today. In fact, I have been thinking about you every single day since we lost you but perhaps more notably today... and yesterday. The dusting of snow brings a smile to his face and the Christmas decorations both in and out of the house bring cheer to his eyes.

It’s easier this year. A little. Last year it was so raw. This year he’s able to talk memories without crumbling. He paints your smile with his words as he talks about the festive seasons he remembers with you... how “Christmas is January in Russia.” He remembers very little of his Russian Christmases aside from that though. He remembers more of the first one he was here... the one we all spent together. He tells the same stories about that day over and over with increasing excitement.

He’s painting a picture for you for Christmas. Sorry – I guess I shouldn’t ruin the surprise. I won’t tell you what it is, but he’s putting a lot of effort into it. We’ll take it to the tree when it’s ready. Promise : )

We sit together, he and I, and we talk about you. We laugh at the sweeter memories. He shows Chloe photos of you and Chloe says,

“Your Mum was so beautiful.”

He beams proudly. He is so proud to be your son.  He is so fiercely proud of everything you were and of every moment the two of you spent together.

“Yes, she was,” he says to Chloe.

He loves her.... She will never replace you. She never wants to. But, Anje, she is such an amazing woman and a wonderful Mother figure. I know you’d want someone like her in his life. It’s what keeps me smiling, knowing how pleased you would be.

You’ll be with us this Christmas. I’ll be thinking of you. He will be thinking of you. It will be a contrast to last Christmas though, which was a little dark, to be honest. I know you’d have hated that and would have hated to see him so torn up. We’re making up for it this year. Big plans, Anje. A big, festive, family one. He’s genuinely excited. I suppose he feels like he has not had a Christmas in two years.

I heard that song you liked yesterday.  Maybe that’s what got me thinking. “Winter Song.” We saw it performed on TV just before Christmas 2008. Our son keeps your CDs.... the twenty or so you had in England with you. He doesn’t listen to them. But they have pride of place on his shelf. Along with the photos... the letters he writes.... the pictures he draws. It’s all you. : )

I’ve been thinking of you today...and yesterday. We both have.

In fact, we never stop.

We miss you just as sorely today as we did the day we lost you. But we deal with it better these days.

Always in our minds, always in our hearts.

Sleep well, sweetheart.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ah, Long Weekend

I had an amazing long weekend : )

My little boy, Fiancee and I put our Christmas tree up and went around the Christmas markets. We went to the cinema, went out for a great walk in place of our weekly bike ride (he can’t cycle owing to broken arm) and watched Christmas films.

I promised myself today off work and I have taken it. Chloe took the little man to school this morning and I wrapped gifts first – or tried. Why am I completely incapable of wrapping presents? Chloe wraps gifts of all shapes and sizes and they look amazing. I get left the “easy” ones.... the ones that are just box shaped and should be simple and they look, by the time I have finished with them, like my 6 year old wrapped it – with one arm.

Oh well!! That’s not one of my talents.

On Friday Chloe, me and our little boy are heading off to Iceland to see the Northern lights. We’ll have 4 nights there. I went shopping this afternoon for heavy duty gloves, hats and scarves. We have the coats already taken care of! The temperatures where we are going, ironically, are actually higher than they have been here in Manchester the last week though! Typical! It is forecasted to get pretty chilly! In Reykjavik, where we will spend the first day and night, it’s about 2 degrees... so warmer than here right now lol. However, in Akureyri where we will spend our second night, it’s minus 9. Still not as cold as parts of the UK have been but I bet that will be little consolation if we’re not wrapped up! So the winter wardrobe is well and truly ready and I am really genuinely excited!

Log fires, snow, hot drinks and one of nature’s most spectacular shows! I’m lucky :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

I Love December

It is weekend : ) Well, almost. I’ve been working really long hours the last few weeks. Had so much on and it’s been a case of leaving the office at 6, getting home, spending some time with my Fiancee and son and, when he’s in bed, getting back at the work until 11ish. I promised myself I would not make a habit of those sort of working hours again and as such, I’m taking a long weekend.

I’ve been out of the office the last two days with my son’s being closed due to snow. For some reason, this country grinds to a complete standstill when it snows. “Aaaaargh, it’s a really cold white flake of water!! Everybody in, protect yourselves!” But we have enjoyed it. I worked from home both evenings to compensate for the time off, but during the day he and I built snowmen. He’s got a broken arm at the moment and he can’t throw himself around in the snow as he might like. It’s been frustrating for him but he enjoyed building snowmen this week and yesterday (as it was really too cold to be out too long... we’re not used to these minus ten temps) we had a day in front of the TV with some Christmas movies, a duvet and a lot of hot chocolate. When I get quality time like that, extended to more than just a couple of hours in the evening, with my son, I always feel so refreshed for it. That little guy is so freakin’ amazing. He is a wonderful boy and such a pleasure to have around. I’m one hell of a lucky Father.

I came into the office at 6 this morning in order that I can finish early. My son’s school called yesterday evening to confirm they would be open today and Chloe offered to take him in on her way to work. That meant I could get up at 5, into the office for 6 and I can leave early. I am leaving at lunch time and I taking Monday off too to prep ahead of us going away for a few days and then my family from the canary islands arriving.

Then next week, Friday to Tuesday, I am in Iceland with my son and Fiancee. We’re going to see the Northern Lights. I’m ridiculously excited about that!!

A few days after we are back, my family from the Canary Islands will arrive for Christmas so it’s really all go go go!

I love December : ) (except for the cold)!