Monday, 22 December 2014

A new tradition - with football

We used to meet in my nan's lounge on Christmas Day. Over the years our family has grown. My cousins now have partners and their own families. Partner's families are now also included at Christmas. Gradually we all began to celebrate separately.
This year we decided to start a new tradition. We hired a room at a local pub, all chipped in for a buffet style meal, and all agreed to just buy presents, and bring presents, for the children.
I like this new tradition.

The Christmas tree.


The buffet.


My dad and Tommy.


Look who I found at the bar. Like father, like son!


There was also football. As a family we do like our football.


It was a lovely day, even though I lost my voice and had to whisper.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas past

I’ll always remember the Christmas that I received an elephant.
A pink one.
Of course it wasn’t a real elephant, they are not pink in colour. And a real elephant would have been high maintenance to say the least. Where would I have kept him? He would have been too big for the lounge. I wouldn’t recommend the garden either; he would have eaten all my dad’s plants and probably charged his way through the garden fence, into the neighbour’s vegetable patch. Not ideal.
No, a real elephant would not have been appropriate.
My elephant was pink and furry. He was not nearly as big as a real elephant, but to my five year old self, he was pretty large.
And the funny thing was, I imagined him before I even knew he existed. Because my mother asked me what I would like from Father Christmas and I remember thinking about it, imagining a pink elephant, therefore replying, “A pink elephant.”
Apparently my mother was aghast. She’d already bought me one, hidden it in the loft, and knew there was no way I could have spotted it. Also, it was not as if pink elephants were the latest craze or I’d seen one in a toy shop window and exclaimed how much I wanted him.
Weird hey.
Anyhow, I remember that Christmas clearly and fondly. I remember waking up extremely early, peering at the end of my bed, and the excitement I felt when I saw the stripy pillowcases, with presents poking out.
And a pink, furry, elephant.
I practically ran to my brother’s bedroom screaming, “He’s been!” Next I jumped up and down on my parent’s bed, still screaming, “He’s been!”
My parents managed to calm me down, then my brother and I took it in turns to open our presents, perched on my parent’s bed.
As was the tradition in those days, we went to a neighbour’s house for drinks and nibbles, after present opening and before the Christmas dinner. That year I proudly brought my pink elephant.
Everyone commented on my furry friend, and I spent most of the time sitting on him or pretending to feed him a mince pie.
“What’s his name?” one neighbour enquired.
“Elephant.” I replied.
I insisted Elephant sat next to me during our Christmas dinner. We pulled crackers and told bad jokes, and my brother and I ate so much Christmas pudding that we both said we felt sick. In a nice way. In a happy, content, I love Christmas kind of way. To be honest I probably didn’t even feel sick. Whatever my brother said I tended to agree with. He was my big brother and I looked up to him.
We always used to watch the Queens speech in the lounge. I would pretend to be more interested in it than I really was, all those new toys were just so distracting.
Then we would all pile in the car with the presents for my nan, grandad, aunts, uncles and cousins. Elephant had to come with us that year, it was rather a tight squeeze.
At my nan and grandad's house we would be greeted at the front door by my nan, still wearing her paper hat from her Christmas cracker. Grandad would be sitting on the brown sofa and all my other relations would be in the lounge, eagerly awaiting the grand present opening.
Underneath the glistening Christmas tree there would be mounds of brightly wrapped presents. My mother always commented on how lucky we were, and we should remember people who weren’t as fortunate as us.
Then we would take it in turns to open our presents. I would sit next to my cousin Sarah, and as near the tree as we possibly could. Elephant also sat next to me that year, so he could share my toys. We were becoming firm friends, you don’t share your toys with just anyone.
It would literally take us hours to open our presents. We would. “Ooh,” and “Arr,” and “Thank you!” our way through until tea time.
Despite a huge Christmas dinner, with lashings of pudding, I would be hungry again for cold meats, sausage rolls, my auntie Helen’s chocolate cake and my nan’s trifle.
Then we’d play charades until I could barely keep my eyes open and I had to go home to bed.
I loved my childhood Christmas’s.
I still love Christmas.
I cherish the special memories dedicated to my dear brother - who made sure I still believed in Father Christmas even when he knew the truth - my little nan, and my granddad.
And not forgetting Elephant.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A first class ticket to planet Jupiter

I was nearly too busy to read the article about being too busy.
Then I thought, how ironic.
So I decided to stop being so busy, take a five minute break, and read and learn.
Because we all do it, don’t we, we all complain at some point that we have too much going on in our lives.
And yet, most of the time, if we stopped and thought about it, the reason we have a ‘to do’ list as long as our longest ruler, is all down to us. And the impossible tasks we set ourselves. And life in 2014 being so, well, involved.
We now have email, texts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsupp, Blogs and goodness knows what else. It could take us all day just catching up with all these apps and social media sites.
Plus the need to be living this fulfilling and quite frankly, quite often, too busy, life.
The other day a friend texted me to see how I was and I replied: V busy.
And according to this mentioned article, this is a common mistake. Why don’t we all enquire or remark on our feelings, or mood, rather than our ever growing criteria for the day?
It’s not healthy either, to expect too much out of our day, to be stressing and running about, and telling everyone how busy we are.
Take a step back people, and enjoy the ride.
Take a moment to breathe, be kind to ourselves, sit down and relax. I know sometimes this seems as likely as a first class ticket to planet Jupiter. But go on, I dare you to try it.
Hark at me, spreading my worldly advice. Let me explain that it's been a while since something I read has had such a large impact on me.
I can be my own worst enemy, fretting if the house is not nearly immaculate, stewing over deadlines in the office, trying to constantly keep in touch with friends, and now entertain and cater for Tommy.
Phew.
However, I’m going to try very hard from now on to not be too busy. So what if there are Christmas presents on the kitchen table to wrap. They are not offending anyone, are they? I’ll wrap them in my own time.
It’s far more important that I spend some quality time with my family, that we chat and laugh and take some time out to just be.
I’m rather looking forward to this more relaxed approach to life.
And I’m glad that I decided after all, that I wasn’t too busy to read about being too busy.
I hope planet Jupiter is nice this time of the year.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The baptism and the grey duffle coat

A baptism interrupted my 'I love December and Christmas' mood, but I didn't mind.
It was a glorious sunny day, which everyone commented was very rare for this time of the year. Although I still made Tommy wear his grey duffle coat outdoors. Mum's hey!

Hannah Rose's big day with the water.


Tommy loved standing up in the church and shouting, "Car!" It's the only real word he can say at the mo.


He sat on my lap for about three seconds, long enough for a quick picture.


Tommy wrapped up warm with Daddy.


Tommy can walk now, outside we like to hold his hand.



Then we all headed to the local golf course for tea and cake.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

It's arrived

It's arrived folks! It's been threatening it's presence for a while now. The temperature slowly dropped, the Christmas adverts sneaked onto our television screens, the shops stacked their shelves with gifts for loved ones. And then...boom! The 1st December arrived on my doorstep.
I couldn't be happier. Oh I do love this time of year. The twinkling fairy lights, the hot mince pies, and the thought of a very long holiday with my family.

It's here, and I have a Snowman to tell me so.


3 stockings for Father Christmas.


Tommy and his first advent calendar.


The tree is small and displayed high, we thought it would be safer with a one year old!


I've made all my cards.


And eaten mince pies, on my Christmas pudding plates. Yes it must be December if the Christmas pudding plates are out of their hiding place!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Chocolate pie and lemon tart

I've decided I quite like taking photographs of food. With the chrome setting on my iPhone.
Please find below a selection of my latest offerings.

French fancies and Peter Rabbit at Tommy's first birthday.


Chocolate pie at our local pub.


The pie stall at the food market one Wednesday evening.


Fruit and veg at said food market.


The flour station, another stall at the food market.


A trio of desserts at the wedding. Hubby and I had a fab time together.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

When dreams turn bad

Mark had a bad dream.
I know he did because after opening his eyes, he said to me, “I had a bad dream.”
“I did too!” was my response.
So we both had bad dreams. This did not bode well.
We took it in turns to explain our dreams.
Mark dreamt I terminated our relationship. There was all sorts of other weird stuff, but the main point of the dream was his feeling of abandonment. And no-one wants to feel abandoned, even in dreams.
I dreamt I forgot Tommy. I placed him in the bath and left him. It wasn’t until ages later that I remembered my son, when his skin was pink and shrivelled like a bad prune. The remainder of my dream was focused on my over-whelming sense of guilt, and wailing like a baby that I could do such a terrible thing.
Therefore, my dream was focused on guilt. And no-one wants to feel guilty, even in dreams.
I regularly analysis my dreams, do you? Particularly if they are reoccurring ones. I figure my brain must be trying to tell me something if it insists on repeating itself.
Alas I have the Tommy and the guilt dream fairly often. As does Mark with the abandonment, it’s been a few times now he’s awoken and said crossly to me, “You dumped me again.”
Which means I have decided to face my self-condemnation woes and conquer Mark’s separation issues.
How does one stop feeling guilty?
And how does one convince one’s husband that they will never, ever, leave them? Unless of course he did something awful, such as conduct sordid affairs with every single female I know. Or heaven forbid, he sold Tommy to a passing gypsy for the price of a fast car and a huge ego. But that’s hardly likely, is it?
It’s healthy that Tommy realises I am not the only person in this world who idolises him. When I visit the office he is thoroughly spoilt at his nanny and grandpa’s. He receives love, attention and food. What more could he possibly want? He needs to know he can not be 100% dependent on me, he can play and sleep without my presence and this is fine. And when I work from home he can cuddle granddad and knock cubes down that granddad piles high for him, and chase a brightly coloured ball which granddad throws around the room for him. I’m going to try and stop feeling guilty and continually remind myself of this.
Now I need to concentrate on Mark. I always vowed to never leave my partner out when a child came along. You read about it, you hear about it. But guess what, no one can really prepares you for it. When a child does come along, no one can prepare you for the love that consumes you. At least I wasn’t prepared. It almost knocked me off my feet, and still does.
Sometimes I am so wrapped up with Tommy and his needs I forget about the outside world. And sadly, maybe this is reflecting on Mark.
Life has changed so much, we can’t go out at short notice, in fact we don’t go out at all unless it’s with Tommy, or to take Tommy to my parents so we can work. We no longer have date nights where we dress up and visit a fancy restaurant. Even when Tommy is sleeping in his cot I’m anxiously checking the monitor and running up the stairs most of the night to comfort him (he STILL doesn’t sleep well, can you believe that).
However, tomorrow we are attending a wedding - the ceremony, the meal, the evening disco and buffet. Tommy, and no other children, are invited. Mark and I will spend almost twelve hours together. Without Tommy. This filled me with dread at first. Will Tommy be okay? What if he cries when his mummy and daddy are not there to put him to bed? What if he wakes up and wonders where I am? Will my parents cope this long with him? Will Tommy be okay?
Mum and dad are coming to our house, where Tommy can be in familiar surroundings, to be loved and played with, and taken to the park if it’s not raining. And if he wakes up a million times? My mum and dad and their capable soothing voices and reassuring arms will be there.
I have to keep telling myself this!
Plus it will be lovely, and long over-due, to spend quality time with the man that quite frankly, rocks my world.