Our Christmas Present Is A New Baby

The Mulrooney family meeting Father Christmas who has come on a sleigh to local streets.
Noah is quite clearly thrilled to meet Father Christmas! This is part of a mini Christmas parade that comes through our area every year. They collect money for Pendleside Hospice and hand out presents (Selection Boxes) to children. It was worth freezing our arses off!

Christmas 2022 was pretty uneventful for the Mulrooney family, which, at my age, is the way I like it. We did the usual stuff; Noah opening his presents, the Christmas day meal at the in-laws, being lazy on Boxing Day while also attempting to build Noah’s new toys. We did other stuff around it too, such as going for Christmas Eve breakfast at a local pub. Although, this turned out to be a bit of a nightmare thanks to the impatience of a three-year-old. It was standard stuff, but that’s perfect in my book. 

At the same time, Christmas this year felt unique. While we’ve spent time ensuring that Noah has a magical time, much of our focus has been on what comes after Christmas. Because, a few days from now, our new baby will have arrived.  

It’s odd knowing the exact date your baby is going to arrive, providing everything goes like clockwork. Because Alex has chosen to have a C-section, the hospital assigned us a morning slot in which to turn up. As long as we don’t get bumped down the list due to any emergencies, our baby will be into this world without Alex having to go through the stress of a natural labour (which didn’t happen with Noah either, not through lack of trying on Alex’s part). We’ve heard that a planned C-section is much calmer than the emergency C-section that happened with Noah, so we’re looking forward to the process being a lot smoother. Fingers crossed. 

Are we ready for our second child? I don’t think anyone is ever fully ready. We didn’t feel ready for our first child, but we coped and he’s a now a healthy little boy who often drives us up the wall! People keep telling me that a second child is a whole different ball game. While I’m looking forward to the challenge, I know that the job of being a parent is about to get much harder.  

Thankfully, my work has allowed me to extend my two-week paternity leave by letting me tack on two weeks annual leave so I can have four weeks off work. When you add that to the week I’ve had off for Christmas, that means I’ll be having over a month away from work.  

I wanted to do this for a few reasons. First, it’s going to be a lot harder to look after a new born when you’ve already got a three-year-old causing chaos around the house (he won’t be going back to our childminder until the second week of January). Second, Alex is going to struggle to do things while she recovers from a doctor slicing her open (she can’t drive for six weeks), so I want to be there to help as much as possible. Finally, I want to have as much time to bond with my new child as possible without the distraction of a daily job. I only had two weeks off when Noah arrived, and part of that was taken up by studying for an exam I’d been going to classes for. The plan is to be more present this time around. 

I know I’m in a fortunate position to be able to take so much time off work, and I’m super grateful to the company I work at for letting me do this. We’ll be hit on the financial side for a bit, which isn’t the most ideal situation when it feels like everything is going up in price, but we’ve worked it all out and we can get by on less for a while.  

It won’t feel real until I’ve got our new baby in my arms because, right now, I’m still a bit unaware of how much our life is going to change for the second time. I never thought we would be here again, especially after what happened the first time, but here we are. I’m over the moon about growing our little family, and so excited for what’s to come in the future. Although you may have to remind me of that when I’m attempting to survive the day on two hours sleep! 

If you want to read Alex’s thoughts on this, head over to her blog post.

The Songs Of My Life: U2 – Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of

I wouldn’t call myself a U2 fan. There are certain U2 songs that I like, but I never go out of my way to listen to them. Yet in the year 2001 – long before U2 would annoy millions of people by putting their new album on everyone’s iPhone – when I was at the tender age of 14, one of their songs came to mean a lot to me. That song was Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.  

Released on 29 January 2001, I was the second single from U2’s tenth studio album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind. According to a Rolling Stone interview with Bono from November 2005, the song is about the suicide of his close friend Michael Hutchence, the lead singer of INXS. It’s written in the form of an argument where Bono tries to convince Hutchence that suicide is foolish. 

It’s a row between mates. You’re kinda trying to wake them up out of an idea. In my case, it’s a row I didn’t have while he was alive. I feel the biggest respect I could pay to him was not to write some stupid soppy song, so I wrote a really tough, nasty little number, slapping him around the head. And I’m sorry, but that’s how it came out of me. 

Wenner, Jann S. (3 November 2005). “Bono: The Rolling Stone Interview”. Rolling Stone. No. 986. pp. 48–67, 102–103.

As a 14-year-old, I was unaware of what the song was actually about. The original reason I fell in love with it was due to the music video released for the song. Three versions exist, and the version that I fell in love with was the original version (also known as the US version). It features an American football game where a placekicker keeps reliving a field goal he missed that would cost his team the game. The video ends with the linebacker, now a postman, as an old man. He kicks the ball and scores. 

This video captivated me and my brother. It used to play on either TMF or The Hits music channels quite a lot, and always around the same time of day. This happened to be not long after we finished school. When we got off the bus, we’d run towards our home to turn the TV on and catch it before we missed it. We’d then sit there with grins on our faces while we watched it.  

I’m not sure why we loved the video so much. Watching it back today, it’s well shot and the story it tells is relatable to us all. No, I don’t mean that we all go through missing a kick at school. But we do all go through something that went wrong that we keep playing over and over in our heads.  

The more I watched the music video and listened to the song, the more I came to connect with the lyrics. As a teenager, I suffered from social anxiety. I would repeat conversations I’d had with other people over and over in my head. I’d wish I’d said something different or been a bit more approachable. Like a lot of teenagers, I obsessed over how people perceived me, and I wanted people to like me. But my social anxiety prevented me from being the real person I wanted to be. It also meant that I could come across as unapproachable and disinterested in involving myself in social activities with others. I tried to avoid social situations because I got anxious thinking about them.

There were so many moments during my teenage years when I’d get stuck replaying the same situations over and over in my head, wishing I’d done something different. Wishing I’d talked to that girl, or wishing that I hadn’t gotten so pissed off at someone and ended up having an argument over nothing. I always seemed to be ‘stuck in a moment’ rather than forgetting about it and moving on with my life. The lyric ‘don’t say that later will be better’ was always me saying I’ll come out of my shell when I’m ready, rather than going and doing something about it right now. 

These days, I’m far better at dealing with and moving on a lot quicker than I used to. That social anxiety is still around, but it’s not half as bad as it used to be.  

This song reminds me of darker times in my life, but it’s a positive thing as I know I ended up getting through it all to achieve the great life I have today. It also reminds me of having a connection with my brother and bonding over something we both enjoyed. That’s why I love music. It reminds you of periods in your life and the connections you shared with others. 

We’re Having Another Baby!

I’ve got some big news that I’ve yet to announce on my blog. We’re having another baby! 

While we did want another baby, it was still a bit of a surprise. We’d just taken the approach of ‘wait and see’ than actively focusing on it. Alex decided to do a pregnancy test because she was feeling a little different and, lo and behold, it came out positive. Given that it took so long for us to get pregnant the first time, which ended in tragedy, I didn’t expect another one to come so soon.  

Our baby looks to have a head as big as my massive noggin!

Our baby is due in early January, and I honestly can’t wait to do it all again. Everyone said that our baby boy would grow up so quick, and they were right. Now we get to experience all that again. By the way, we don’t know the sex of our second child, which is what we did with Noah too. Having a girl this time would be fantastic, but I’m honestly fine with either sex. 

However, I’m under no illusions that this is going to be easy. We currently have a boisterous three year-old who can be a handful at the best of times. Add a newborn baby into that mix, and I don’t think we’ll be getting any sleep for the foreseeable future. Although I’m hoping things will be slightly easier when Noah goes to school near the end of next year (I can’t believe that’s come so soon!).  

But all those tiring days are worth it when you look into the eyes of your little one and they smile back. Noah has been the best thing that ever happened to us, and our new baby will be the equal of that. It’s magical, and I love the feeling that we made a whole person with a cheeky personality.  

That said, remind me of this in about a year when I’ve collapsed from exhaustion! 

UK Energy Price Woes

Last week I received what I’m sure a lot of people dread to see these days – my new energy quote. I’ve been lucky up until now in that I’ve been on a fixed tariff since September 2020. My bill went up by £20 a month when I moved house, but I moved from a well-insulated new build into an older house that was built in the 1960’s, so I expected to pay a little more. But I don’t think any of us expected what’s happening in the energy market right now.  

I currently pay £100.51 a month, which is amazing compared to what a lot of other people are currently paying. If I were to fix my prices for 12 months, Octopus Energy, my current provider, will fix the price at a ridiculous estimated £542.59 a month, which is around the same as what I pay for my mortgage.  

If I switch to Loyal Octopus, a tariff that’s only available to customers who have been with them at least 8 months, it will go down to an estimated £519.12 a month. While a saving of £23.47 a month would normally be great if I was still paying £100.51 a month, it’s nothing when you get into these extremes.  

Finally, I can switch to the variable rate, which will be an estimated £217.81 a month. Obviously, this is the one I’m going to go for, but it’s still over double what I’m paying now, and variable comes with its own downsides.  

To be fair on Octopus Energy, they’re yet to announce what the prices will be now that the government has announced a cap of £2,500 a year for the typical family (and I like to think we use less energy than the typical family), so it will probably end up being a bit less than what they’ve quoted me. Still, it’s crazy expensive right now. 

While these costs suck up a chunk of my disposable income, I can still afford it. But there are millions of people who won’t be able to afford a rise like this, even when all the help from the government is in place. How does an old person on state pension afford to keep their heating on when the prices are this high? Deaths in the older generation are surely going to go up. I’m just hoping that the winter will be mild, but any cold weather affects older people far more than someone my age. 

While I’m glad the Tories have finally done something about this (let’s face it, it would have been political suicide for them to ignore it), there’s still a lot more they could be doing. Like a windfall tax on energy companies’ profits, or investing more in renewable energy rather than approving more oil drills as Liz Truss is gearing up to do. But Tories will be Tories.  

A Hot, Sticky, Sweaty Tuesday In July 2022

The flowers in my garden have seen better days, but forgetting to water them on the night before the hottest day since records began is my fault.

Well, the predictions I was talking about yesterday came true. Not long after midday at Heathrow, they finalised the hottest temperature ever recorded in the U.K. as 40.2C. This was following the hottest night on record, where the highest minimum temperature hit 25.8C in south London.  

That hot night was certainly felt in the Mulrooney household, where we all struggled to sleep in the stifling heat. It doesn’t help that the fan we have is basically blowing warm air at you. If these kind of nights become normal, it’s going be very uncomfortable to sleep during summer months. 

When we went upstairs to check on Noah, we noticed that his bedroom felt very hot. We made the decision to move his mattress into our bedroom so that all three of us could benefit from the fan, even if it turned out to be pretty lousy. At first he barely stirred, so we headed off downstairs. About 9.30 we heard him crying, and then all hell broke loose.  

Understandably, he was confused as to why he’d fallen asleep in his bedroom and was now waking up in our bedroom. He was kicking and screaming, barely able to get a breath out. A three-year-old doesn’t see reason when they’re in this state, so we let him calm himself down. He eventually told us he wanted to be back in his bedroom, so we carted everything back in there. But, again, he started screaming about something, and then wouldn’t let us take his duvet away. This was despite the fact that it was far too hot to be covering yourself with a duvet. But, kids, eh? They do weird things. We left him to it then came back while he was asleep to pull the duvet off him.

Instead of heading to an office that has no air con, I decided to work from home today. I realise I’m privileged to be in that position, but if you don’t have air con in your office and the heat is stifling, your employer should be letting you work from home if it’s practical. I’m glad I did, as comments from other co-workers who did go in made it sound like they were walking through the fiery gates of hell.  

Not that my little spare bedroom was much better. Even with the fan literally next to me, it still felt hot as fuck. On the bright side, I did manage to get lots of washing loads dried on the line. So, I guess there’s that.  

Tomorrow it’s supposed to go down to normal northern England summer temperatures of a high of 21C. Rain is even on the cards, which I’m sure my garden will be very pleased about. But, from the hot, sticky, sweaty, mess that I currently find myself in, I’m betting that tonight will also be tough to sleep through.  

Anyway, I’m off for a cool shower! 

The Dreaded First Holiday With Your Child

If you’re a parent but you haven’t yet been on holiday with your child or children, then let me tell you this. Dispense with any fairy-tale notion that you’re ever going to have a relaxing holiday when you go away as a family. Yes, maybe they’ll be a little easier once they hit their teens, especially if you only ever have one child, but those days of going on a chilled holiday as a couple are long gone. 

We were probably a little naïve in thinking it wouldn’t be too hard with a two-year-old. I mean, he throws a little paddy simply because a toy car won’t fit under a wooden bridge that’s about three sizes too small for it. So, why we thought he’d be ok I’ll never know. At least we didn’t have the stress of going abroad, as it was just a two and a half-hour drive to a Haven holiday park known as Primrose Valley in Yorkshire. 

It’s technically not our first holiday, as we went to Spain for a family wedding when he was only around 5 months old. But that was relatively easy, as he was still in the stage where he slept for most of the day. This holiday was our first trip together where Noah could now take part in activities and enjoy himself, although he had many moments that just made us want to pack up and head home.

Trying to get a family photo when a two year-old is wriggling around in your arms and refusing to look at the camera is hard. This was our best attempt in Scarborough.

But I’m probably being a little too harsh, as we did have fun moments on our holiday. It is, after all, mostly about your child having fun. Yet, we were utterly exhausted by the end of it to the point that we travelled home a day early on the Sunday (we were supposed to be out of our accommodation by the Monday) simply because we could have a day off from work to recover once we were back.