Sunday, 26 December 2010

Things I learned this Christmas

Now that I have had time to thaw (yes, the snow is melting) and stuff myself (far too much), I feel that I can share with you the things I have learned during this, Babies First Christmas:

1. No, she is not more interested in the wrapping paper and the boxes, especially when there are the flexes of four dozen strings of sparkly lights to chew.
2. Turkey dinner mashes up marvelously to make a yummy baby mush.
3. Turkey dinner is no fun when it is processed and passed out the other end.
4. Baby will make it through the day, and indeed the whole holiday season, without any items branded with 'Babies First Christmas'.
5. Mummy and Granny however, will feel the need to buy everything branded with the above slogan.
6. What used to be an adequate sufficiency of pre-dinner drinks is now an absolute skinful.
7. Much mulled wine = merriment. Much mulled wine + childcare = afternoon hangovers.
8. Baubles are really fun until baby throws them on the ground and they smash into smithereens causing an extra housework chore.
9. The big pile of DVDs under the tree will remain unwatched until baby learns how to go down at night without a battle, and how to nap for longer than a half hour. Or until she is a teenager and would rather go out with her friends.
10. Babies do not respect Carols From King's. Why ever not?

Roll on next year!

Radio silence now until the New Year, so have a good one and spare a thought for those of us who will be home, praying that the baby sleeps through. Maybe that will be her New Year's Resolution?!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Festive Flicks

The other night I found myself watching Bridget Jones’ Diary. For the fifteen millionth time. And I realised it is supposed to be a Christmas film (reindeer jumpers and the odd snow dependant joke) and it made me start thinking about my favourite films for watching at Christmas. I challenged Granny Bloggings to come up with our top 5’s as I thought it might give you all a little inspiration to step outside of the Bridget Jones box…

So my 5 for Christmas viewing are (prepare yourselves - they are a bit random because Old Granny Bloggings chose first and she got pretty much all 5 that I was going to pick!):

Love Actually – Can I have that with a side order of cheese please? Yes, yes, I know, if I was cool this would not be in there. But I am not. And I like a bit of Hugh Grant dancing around to Girls Aloud. How can something so wrong feel so right?

– What was I saying about cheese? I think you’ve got to have at least one fairy tale at Christmas time and this one surprised me with how fun it is, for kids and adults. Watch it, if only for Robert De Niro as you have never seen him before.

Some Like It Hot - Right, so, first of all, I cheated. This has no nod to Christmas at all but it is the movie that I could watch every year without fail. It is a perfect film for all ages, I’ve loved it since I was about 12 and still do now that I am aged. And it’s a proper feel good flick. And it has some snow in it.

Planes Trains and Automobiles – Alright, so this choice is a cheat too – this one is Thanksgiving… BUT… it is a total ‘holidays’ (as our friends across the pond would say) movie. Candy and Martin are comedy geniuses (what is the plural?) and this film can only enhance your festive season.

Die Hard – Yes, it is set at Christmas. Ha! Any excuse for a bit of Bruce. Not only is he running barefoot, wearing only a ripped sweaty vest, fending off a horde of heinous terrorists, he still has time to be funny. Brilliant. OK so maybe not your family feelgood movie, but once the kiddies are in bed, it is the perfect way to kill a couple of hours of the pre-present excitement.

OK, here are Granny Bloggings top five favourite festive films:

The Bishops’ Wife – the David Niven original for me but the more recent version with Denzel Washington for yum yum appeal.
It’s a Wonderful Life – Granddad and I watch this every year and know it word perfect by now.
Scrooged – Bill Murray at his best
National Lampoons’ Christmas Vacation – possibly the silliest film ever but I love it and it has a very slight yum yum factor if Chevy Chase is your kettle of fish.
White Christmas which is almost interchangeable with Holiday Inn – yeah, I cheated and got an extra one in, tee hee.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Granny Bloggings has a visit from the ghost of Christmas Past...

My dad believed in Christmas in a big way and this required DECORATIONS! He was the village school master so first he used to make sure the whole village was decorated – a veritable rival to Oxford Street! Then came our house which he turned into an Aladdins cave – oh yes he did, - look behind you! We had tinsel on our tinsel, we had whirly things hanging all over the ceiling, we had mistletoe and holly hanging at every conceivable angle, yet the Christmas tree was never brought into the house until after I was in bed on Christmas eve. I wonder now if that tradition was not born from his desire to decorate it himself. Anyway, once up, it threatened the national grid with its’ strands of coloured lights – yes dear reader, coloured lights – I never claimed any of it was tasteful did I!

We always had a party at Christmas and there were certain elements to said party which could never be omitted. Sausage rolls, cheese and small white pickled onions on sticks stuck, hedgehog style, into a potato covered in silver foil, trifle decorated with stiff cream and garish glace cherries and cold sausages wrapped in bacon – well this was the 1950’s. Then there would be games, mainly charades and then followed by my fathers’ Christmas Treasure Hunt.

Ah, The Christmas Treasure Hunt! All the children in our family have spent countless happy hours racing round the house looking for ‘clues’, wooden spoons tied to chair legs, hairbrushes standing amongst the Poinsettias, old shoes taped under tables. My father would sit in a comfortable chair whilst children and adults tore back and forth whispering their answers in his ears and being given the next clue. It must have taken him days to type out all the clues and gather all the objects and I don’t remember there ever being a prize at the end of it, although as a treasure hunt I guess there must have been, but the fun was in the tearing about and the whispering, we loved it!

My father died recently and whilst clearing out his attic I came across a box filled with hundreds of small, yellowing pieces of paper – the Christmas Treasure Hunt! Of course I had a little weep before transferring the box to my own attic so that when CK is a little older I will be able to give her the joy of The Christmas Treasure Hunt – some traditions should never be forgotten!

Have a good one and a happy and healthy new year!

Granny Bloggings

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 18 (1 week today!): Dear snow and snow...

I am channelling the spirit of Kat over at 3 Bed Bungalow so I thought I would present you all with my thoughts in a 'Dear So and So' today. Here goes...

Dear Snow,

I am going to have to be blunt about this but will you please f*** off? You are very very pretty and I know my South African followers will think I am just being a tad churlish, but seriously, I have had enough for one year.

Not only do you wreak havoc with my social life, causing me to miss festive celebrations, but you also force me to be stranded at home with a 9 month old child, whose energy is far too great to be cooped up. Back in January when I was still preggers and working, it was great to have you here - I had a good reason to miss a whole week of my last month at work which was wonderful. I give you that. But now that I am a 'lady what lunches' I am no longer laughing.

It is only 10 in the a.m. but I am already thinking about how the hell I am going to keep that little spider monkey entertained for the rest of the day if we are housebound. Yes, we can unpack the contents of the kitchen cupboards and examine each item in detail (always good for a half hour or so), and yes, mummy can put babies tights on her head and dance around (that will keep us entertained for around 14 minutes), but after that, I am stumped. Being stuck at home with sickness was bad enough... but now we are well, being housebound again feels a bit like torture.

And there is one other problem with you, my slushy friend, and that is that you wreak havoc with my telly watching. It is not that interesting (BBC take note) to see 7 different correspondents in 7 different parts of the UK reporting that, yep, it's snowing there too. Yawn.

So if you would, snow, consider this a polite notice and go and bother someone else, someone more prepared, maybe the Norwegians?

Thanks in advance
Mummysquared and a bored little Monkey
Dear So and So...

Friday, 17 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 17: Granny Bloggings ponders the fat man in red...

I’m afraid I have fallen by the wayside recently with all this blogging business, luckily it was not a snowy ditch, just laziness and lack of oomph.

But here I am, Back With A Vengeance and, assuming that none of our readers are under seven, I thought I might tackle the difficult one at this time of year – do you tell them the truth or do you not?

It is difficult because you don’t want to ‘spoil the magic’, but do you want to spend the first few years of your childs’ life lying through your pearly whites to them? Do you want to confuse and maybe terrify them by persuading them that on one night of the year a complete stranger, an old man with a sack, (though, tonight not wear a stripey t-shirt, a black beret and mask, carrying a bag labeled ‘swag’, no, not a passing Frenchman but burglar Bill) can climb down their chimney and leave them sweets and toys which you will then encourage them to take and eat despite spending all year drumming into their innocent little heads that they must never, ever, take sweets or toys from a stranger!

I told CKs’ mother when she was a small child that I would never lie to her and I told her that the Santa story was just that, a delightful tale which she could enjoy in the safety of her perfectly secure home. I told her that if she believed in the magic of the story then it would be alive for her and I am willing to bet a very small amount that my 31 year old daughter will be leaving out a sherry for Santa and a carrot for Rudolph this Christmas eve, and still loving every minute of it.

I grew up in the small Dorset village of Corfe Castle and every year Santa arrived in the village in a spectacular way; sometimes on the steam train (as he does now) sometimes on a sleigh drawn by my friends’ cart horse, once, I remember, he appeared up on the roof of a building in the village square and climbed down a large red chimney, which I am sure was not there the day before or the day after. He appeared in the bedroom window below and carefully place many colourfully wrapped presents at the foot of a childs’ bed – the child dutifully stayed asleep throughout this, his five minutes of fame. I was awe struck, I remember loving every second of every Santa-coming every year and often I had been present when the plans were made by my father and the other village worthies, so I usually knew who ‘Santa’ was and what was going to happen. Did it spoil the magic? Not one bit.

Granny Bloggings

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Christmas Traditions

Every family has their own yuletide traditions, whether it be a simultaneous assault on the presents, shredding paper and squealing with delight, or a decorous morning imbibing sherry while each gift is enjoyed in turn. Some are about the spiritual meanings of the holidays, while some are solely about consumer culture. Whatever works for you. I have been thinking about what I want for my little monkey when it comes to Christmas so here are a few traditions I will be forcing upon her.

Hats: Christmas is not complete without them (and if you knew me in my teen years you will know that I feel life is not complete without a few good hat opportunities). Sweaty cracker hats is a good start but basically anything festive, sparkly, or with ears/antlers will do the job.

Celebrating through the medium of song: I start amping up the singing of Xmas ditties around the end of October so that by now, when finishing up my Crimbo shopping I am singing along, full bore without a care in the world. Keeps me sane and ensures I have enough space to move around the crowded shops as other buyers shrink from my dulcet tones.

Cartoons: I have to get one on DVD every Christmas for watching on the afternoon, after the turkey. Last year it was Wall-E and I slept through most of it... This year is cheap - Wall-E again!

Letters to Father C: I was born a skeptic, I grew up a skeptic and am a skeptic now. Does it stop me writing to Santa on Christmas Eve? Does it stop me leaving out a mince pie, some sherry and a carrot for Rudolph? No. The charade is part of the fun.

House arrest: In my family Christmas is about being together (and eating all the food that has been bought whether you want to or not) and so we get together from about the 23rd and don't leave the house again until (on a good year) about 4th January. By that time we are all ready to leave and face another year!

I think that pretty much covers it. Is there anything I have forgotten that I need to foist upon her? Anything that will enrich her experience year on year? I don't think so - as long as she is in a silly hat, she can face pretty much anything!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Getting my Christmas Groove Back - Countdown to Christmas Day 15

In a desperate bid to invigorate and imbue myself with festive feeling, I decided to harness the power of music TV yesterday. Yes, I succumbed to a Christmas countdown. I wish I had the skills to V-log so that you could share in my amusement at CK's response. You see, she has learned to head bang.

I blame her father; he was much more of a mosher than me with his long hair (back in the day - I demand he keeps it above the nape at all times now) and his Rammstein tendencies. Perhaps it is in the genes - other children bob gently when they like the music but not my daughter, no, she thrashes her head up and down in time (or not, as the case maybe). So I have compiled my own Christmas Song top 5 based on the degree of neck strain my daughter put herself through as an indicator of audience appeal.

5. Boney M - Mary's Boy Child - Ick. I am going to say that my child liked this one because it sounds like something from CBeebies. I hope that is the reason and that I won't have a lifetime of hearing this kind of nonsense emanating from her bedroom. Heaven forbid.

4. Wham - Last Christmas - who could help but love this one? Especially when accompanied by the video, so we can see them romping around in the snow like a pair of dewy eyed young bucks frolicking in woodland glades. Oh George, what went so wrong?

3. Wizzard - I wish it could be Xmas every day - My child is clearly attracted to the 1970's glam thing, Slade and Wizzard both charting. Obviously my love of all things tacky has rubbed off already. Oops.

2. Mariah Carey - All I want for Xmas - Perhaps babies, like dogs and bats, can hear a higher register than the rest of us... how else would you explain Little CK's enjoyment of this one?

1. Slade - Merry Xmas Everybody - NB This would not be my number 1 choice of Xmas songs but clearly CK is less discerning and likes the look of these. I think they look questionable (was going to say "like a bunch of sex pests" but thought that might be libelous) but she seemed to think they were marvelous, giggling and nodding manically throughout.

A suspect list, but I console myself with the fact that when Sir Cliff was playing, she was more interested on a piece of fluff on the carpet.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Day 14 - No Tree for Me

Christmas has always been an enormous event in my household - Granny Bloggings is a big believer in 'doing Christmas properly', a strange sentiment from a non-Christian, but hey ho, it means I've always done well in the present department so I'm not complaining. Come to think of it, she is like that about pretty much any celebration. Come to think of it, she is like that about pretty much everything. Anyway, enough rambling, suffice to say, Christmas is a decadent, turkey-gorging, present-avalanche, sparkle-fest in our house. It's a time for family to come together to eat, eat more and be merry. We do the tree in late November, we wrap presents in August, we sing carols ALL YEAR ROUND in anticipation. Are you getting the idea?

But this year I am finding it hard to get into the spirit. I have lost my festive mojo as it were. I am cheer-less. I haven't even mustered the energy to put up a single decoration and no matter how much I listen to Mariah Carey telling me what it is she wants for Christmas I just can't get in mood. Bah. Humbug.

I thought about putting up a tree to provoke my enthusiasm but then remembered that with a Little CK crawling around like a little spider monkey (perhaps I shall rename her), it would be fair game for her and soil on my new carpet wouldn't help the mood. I thought about organising a Christmas shindig here with my friends, but have left it too late and they will all be too drunk on mulled wine by now to coordinate their diaries, let alone get here for festive frolicking. I even bought my child's first ever Christmas present (yes only one Christmas present, see what I mean? There is something wrong here) on a well-known marketplace website...

And now, my mate Carol Kirkwood on BBC Breakfast tells me there is the threat of a wonderful white Christmas to jeopardise our travel plans, keeping us from the gorging that we are booked in for over the Christmas weekend.

So I need some inspiration folks, what can I do to get in the mood? How can I re-discover my yuletide magic? And don't say that eating a whole pack of mince pies in one sitting will work. I've tried it. It doesn't.

Friday, 10 December 2010

All I want for Christmas... Christmas Countdown Day 10

Dear Santa,

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter, I really do appreciate that you are probably quite busy at the moment and so I am most grateful that you would take a moment out of your schedule, perhaps take the weight off, have a mince pie and consider my Christmas list.

This year I would really appreciate a couple of small and innocuous items (aside from world peace which is clearly at the top of my list every year).

Firstly, I would like to sleep through the night. Just from 10pm til 7 or 8 am. Just once. Without having to get up to do a feed, rock little one to sleep, or just lie awake worrying about why I haven't had to get up to do a feed or rock little one to sleep. And if you could make it possible for me to fall asleep without having to recite lists in an OCD fashion to stop myself thinking, that would be really marvelous too. Is that within your remit?

Next I was wondering about whether you can defy the laws of gravity? I know you can with the whole sleigh thing, so maybe you can when it comes to my physique? It's not terrible, it looks fine under clothes, but it's just that everything seems to have slipped somewhat. Can you arrange for a sort of winch and tighten so that everything springs back to where it once was? I know this sounds like a vain request but actually it is rather selfless - it is really more for the benefit of the other swimming pool users at my local baths.

Finally, I would like to request to be able to spend a whole day 'hands free'. I'd like to eat my meals without 'a little help' from little one, walk down the street without pushing or carrying, make dinner without someone on my hip directing procedures.

So that is it from me the year, Big Man, I hope that all is well in the North Pole, that Mrs Claus is looking forward to the Christmas specials on TV and that the elves have been behaving themselves.

Thanks in advance,


Thursday, 9 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas - Day 1 for me, Day 9 for everyone else!

So I was perusing the blogosphere this afternoon and spotted a Christmas challenge on Cafe Bebe''s blog - The Countdown to Christmas. I know I am a little late with starting this but I like the idea of a post a day for all of advent. So brace yourselves for a torrent of festive baby blogging!

Here goes for today.

I saw some of my baby friends this morning and one of the yummy mummies was reminiscing nostalgically for 'this time last year' when she was enjoying the beginning of her last trimester and reveling in the last days of freedom.

It was a useful conversation for me as I have recently been wallowing in baby boredom (check out week 19's post !) and it made me think about how much better life is for me in December 2010 than it was in December 2009...

This is what I got for Christmas last year; swollen ankles, fingers, toes, everything; intravenous Gaviscon; a gimpy hand (otherwise known as carpal tunnel syndrome); a bad back; bleeding gums; cramps in my legs; and tempero mandibular joint dysfunction (and inability to close my mouth - no, really!).

This year I get a lovely little 9 month old baby and none of the above! Life suddenly seems so much better when you count your blessings (and all the symptoms you no longer have). Roll on Christmas.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Silent Sunday

Posted by Picasa Silent Sunday is the creation of Mocha Beanie Mummy and the idea is that you let a picture speak for itself. I think this one does the job rather nicely!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Week 19: Plague House

Other houses on our street have lovely wreaths adorning their front doors, some even twinkling with fairy lights representing thousands of happy yuletide fireflies. On our front door this week, there has been daubed a big black cross, representing that this is a plague house - woe betide anyone who dare enter.

Yes dear reader, this week we have all (me, the big hairy man, and little CK) had some kind of hideous vomity evil residing in our systems, making us feel like yesterdays jam, left out in the snow to fester silently, sadly on the curbside. Hours have been spent communing with the porcelain (in the case of the adults) or the carpet, the cot, the couch, the bath etc etc etc (in the case of the wee’un). But I have been suffering from a much, much worse malady (if that is possible - it turns out that voiding ones stomach when sober is really really not fun...who knew?!). Cabin Fever.

This highly contagious and very serious problem leaves the afflicted swinging wildly from laughter to tears, watching daytime telly and making quick phone calls to the bank stretch to over an hour, chatting to the poor phone lady who just wants to see if there is anything else she can help you with today... “Well actually, yes, I am thinking of redoing my kitchen, what colours do you think are in for kitchens this year?”

It has made me seriously rethink my choice to be a stay at home mummy. I mean, isn’t this what it is going to be like all the time in a couple of months when all my friends have gone back to work? Am I forever now consigned to spending every waking hour entertaining my child; dancing to the music channel to try to make her laugh, building towers out of anything that comes to hand for her to knock over, singing along to all her (deeply irritating) electronic jangly toys? On the days when we have nowhere to go and no-one to hang out with , then the answer to the questions above will be yes.

I guess I should just start booking some stuff in, but I am ‘joining phobic’. I am rubbish at taking part and a terrible cynic to boot. I could take part in pretty much ‘Mummy and Baby’ everything; pilates, swimming, sing and sign (really? babies that do sign language? That is so PC), exercise classes. But my fear of having to play nice and not take the mickey is too much - I suppose that naughty school kid instinct is still the default (and this from a teacher...tsk, tsk.).

So I have three choices; suck it up (as the Australians would say) and get used to the cabin fever, my own (mind numbing) company, and find some small joys every day to keep me sane; join some social groups in order to expand my mind, body, soul and social circle, and indeed just have something to do every day; or return to work...shudder.

Or I could just call my new pal Brenda down at the bank and ask her what she would do.

p.s. No Granny Bloggings wisdom this week... she is still shovelling her way out from under a snow drift and can't take the time off for blogging.

Like it? Wanna read more? Ah go on go on go on...