Recap – Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Christmas II (aka Boxing Day)

You made it. The last chapter of my long overdue novella, the Christmas of Yesteryear. Let’s do this!

 

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Christmas Eve was chilled. We hit up the soft play to run some energy out of the littles and instead managed to cave to buying a slush and paid for it by having them totally ruin a lovely game of penguin ludo.

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We cut our losses and put on the jammies and the Christmas films til bedtime.

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The kids got the tray out and filled it with treat for Santa and the reindeer.

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The placed it carefully under the tree…

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… next to their pillow cases for Santa to fill.

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We went to bed and the next morning around 5am Sandy woke up, I went in to cuddle him and he fell back asleep in my arms. About half six he roused again and I saw his little face all pouty by the door in our bedroom telling me, “Mummy, you went away! You left me all. on. my. own!” I asked him “Sandy, what day is it?” and he replied “Christmas Eve”. “Not any more Sandy, it’s…” “…CHRISTMAS DAY!!!” he realised, “has Santa been?!” I told him to check the stockings we’d hung on the door frame and right enough the big man had delivered. Sandy ran into Roslyn’s room as we listened to hear him say “Roslyn! Roslyn! Santa’s been! He has filled our stockings! Wake up!” and she dutifully did, running through, rubbing her eyes with one hand, cradling her stocking in the other. As is tradition we opened our stockings in our bed before heading downstairs to see what had been left under the tree…

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…they were both very pleased to see that Santa and the reindeer had partaken in refreshments.

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Roslyn was delighted with her main gift – a new baby, as requested.

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Sandy finally got the shuttle part of his Playmobile space set he’d been after since his birthday.

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And of course the packaging was well loved too.

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This year Christmas was split over two days for us so everything took a far more leisurely pace. It was lovely to be able to relax in the house not having to rush out.

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They each found a bell from Santa’s reindeer’s harnesses, a la Polar Express, after being captivated by the film this year.

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Sandy was delighted and it seemed to make up for not having been invited on the actual train in the night!

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We got dressed for the day and snapped a family picture before heading out to Stuart’s parents house.

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The kids were thoroughly spoiled and delighted by their gifts there…

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It was lovely to be able to take our time at Stuart’s parents house too.

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We got our annual Findlay/MacNicol Group shot again – a cracker (pun intended).

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After Roslyn’s nap we headed home to meet up with my parents and brothers for a mini Christmas dinner before the main meal the next day.

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We got a little group shot here too but I think the candid one is better!

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Christmas dinner was a hit thanks to the team effort of Jamie (starter) Mum (trimmings) and me (bird and dessert). And the drinks were faithfully covered by Pa.

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Check out anna and elsa’s subtle photobomb in the above picture ^^

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I was especially proud of my pudding. I love the look, smell and general tradition of Christmas pudding but just can’t abide the taste. I want to like it, but I don’t. Peel isn’t the bit you eat, IMO. So I recreated a steamed pudding – honey and cinnamon – and put in charms too, like my Gran used to. It was perfect and Sandy kept going on about how much he loved it which meant a lot.

The next day (Boxing Day) we headed to Gourock and my Aunts’ new flat where we partied it up again…

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Class Acts.

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We got another fabulous family picture too!

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Dinner was perfect and we all had such a nice time. It was great to spread the fun over two days and get to spend more time with everyone.

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We plan to do the same next year and I’m sure it will be just as good.

Well, there’s the end of the saga, festive feeling in February can recede now, and I’m happy not to force Tartan on the kids again til St. Andrews. Maybe.

Childminding – Our First Three Months

So it has been quite a while since I posted on the blog… and of course the reason for this silence is that I’ve jumped straight into the deep end of my new career as a childminder. There is so little time to stop and do things like blogging so I’ve had all these pictures and ideas and activities to share but not a spare minute to actually do just that. Finally I have a little shred of time so here is a quite round up of the past three months.

On the whole it has gone really well. My mindees are lovely and not at all hard to mind and I’m coping with the tos and fros of the school and nursery runs too. Roslyn on occasion has been a little miffed about being woken early from her nap to go pick up the kids but I think that will disappear soon as she now seems intent on dropping her nap altogether.

Luckily for me the time of year I started childminding at was chock full of events that make it easy to plan and execute fun activities for my four charges. It started with Halloween…

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We made some pumpkin decorated biscuits…

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… and carved pumpkins!

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They turned out super scary! They were out front on the night glowing creepily, and my mindees later took theirs home to do the same.

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We also had a sensory bucket full of halloween items and water beads – my newest find thanks to my friend Faye. They are like squishy marbles that grow from seeds to balls in water.

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Strangely hard not to touch! The kids loved them.

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At home my three year old mindee had been challenging me to help him build the biggest train tracks…

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… and been beating my at our Orchard Toys toddler games!

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On Fridays Roslyn and my little mindee go to bookbug while Sandy and our bigger mindee are at nursery and school.

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For Guy Fawkes we did some safe sparkling which was fun, if a little damped by the rain!

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And my mindee made me a lovely birthday card 🙂

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Neither of my kids’ or my mindees’ food choices are particularly varied so we created a food chart. Every time I offer a new food they get a sticker for giving it a try and when they get five stickers they get to pick a fun activity to do one evening. We’ve been hitting up the soft play as the rewards flew in, while some foods have now made a regular appearance on the menu such as green beans, tortellini pasta and sweet potato chips! A total success and we are now on our second chart!

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One of the ways I have been offering such new food is through interactive dinner prep such as top your own pizza night!

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Having a mindee of similar age to Sandy is great, they get on well and are little buddies always wanting to hold hands.

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Roslyn at bookbug pretending to be a sleeping scarecrow!

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Since the mindees started the art wall has flourished, with barely enough frames to accomodate the amount of art generated in a day, never mind a week!

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Christmas lights spotting season begins!

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And also rainbow spotting!

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Our oldest mindee makes up her own games and the little kids join in. This was a toy collection for a pet shop game illustrating the shameful number of plush toys my kids own!!

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We have been getting in on some science activities too, and child led learning. My oldest mindee had seen videos on YouTube of watermelon challenges, where a family were putting rubber bands round a watermelon and the pressure made it explode. We did our own experiment in the garden which was a success… so much fun!

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For Road Safety week we practiced safely crossing the road, then inside made our own lollipops and role played crossings too.

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It got chilly in November on the school run so we needed to think of more indoor activities…

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… such as visiting the library to use their drawing wall and get some books out.

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The festive season started and we have had lots of fun, starting with a walk to Dalzell Estate to collect holly to make a wreath.

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We made fake snow from shaving foam and corn flour and made our own mini snowmen…

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… so cute!

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Much crafting has been taking place…

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… and also another sensory bucket, this time an antarctic one with ice bergs (made by freezing water in freezer bags!)

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Some puddle splashing has taken place on the nursery run too!

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We made a gingerbread house, FROM SCRATCH! One of my personal best baking accomplishments, with help from my brother, Jamie.

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The kids were very happy to help decorate, and of course, demolish in due course.

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Roslyn on the nursery run.

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On the last day before christmas we had a mini christmas dinner with crackers!

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And of course we did lots of cooking and baking too.

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In the holidays I took a week off but got my mindees for three full days, rather than their hours spread over 5, so we got the chance to explore. We visited Dynamic Earth and then Almond Valley.

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Roslyn’s favourite bit? When the big pig pooed. Obvs.

So yes, all in all childminding is going well. There are ups and downs, and financially times are tight until Sandy goes to school in August and I can mind more under 5s, but it is worth it to be at home with my kids and get to work by being creative and playing all day – my favourite things (child at heart!). So bear with me if the updates are few and far between, we are having too much fun to stop just now!!

Pool Party

No time! No time!

It’s busy busy busy as usual, if not even busier. Truth be told, we’ve been out having too much fun at the summer festivals for me to blog. So this long overdue (you can tell by the weather!) but better late than never!

The exciting news here is that all the busy times have paid off and yesterday I had my pre-registration visit with the Care Inspectorate resulting in a Registration in a few weeks time! I’m going to be a childminder! I have so much planned and can’t wait to get back to more of what I’m good at and be at home with Sandy and Rozzie more. What’s more is this is my own business. It means so much. So there will be more to follow on that shortly, but for now, enjoy our pool party from June I believe, and I will update on Sandy turning four as soon as I can!

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Forest

Recently Stuart made a gate on our back fence. It leads to a field which leads to a clearing which leads to a hill progressing into woods and a burn. Sandy calls it our forest and in the nice weather we adventured down, a little further each time, until we had an afternoon picnic on the banks of the water.

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Sandy and Rozzie loved throwing stones in the burn to make splashes, and attracted the attention of a magpie. We listend for bird calls and silence and ate less than romantic children’s food on our blanket.

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We love living here. It’s the perfect mix of rural and suburban, a stark change to Glasgow three years ago with troublesome neighbours, marching season and human waste in our doorway.

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To say 2016 has been tumultous for us is an understatement. Stuart paraphrases Sandy’s favourite singer, Ezra Furman, saying that its been a restless year. The bad times have been receding yet still there are bumps in the road. My PhD. for example. It’s a tale for another time but the long and short of it is that if I want to complete it I’m facing another year’s work, another year’s research. No funding + full time work + family + PhD = ? Well, I’m really not sure that I want to find out.

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But importantly, I have a plan. I know what I will be doing come October, should all be well with my registration. I will be a childminder. I’ve been submerged in induction training and registration forms, policies and procedures and GIRFEC. I’ve made more forms that I ever have in my life and undertaking home risk assessments, not to mention emergency evacuation plans, with floorplans. Yep.

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The end of the hard work will hopefully be my own little business, where I can spend time with my children whilst working and make great experiences not only for my own children but those that I hopefully mind.

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There are downsides: inconsistent earnings, a lack of career progression, having to do tax returns… but they seem to be outweighed by the plus points. Every time I think about it I feel positive and I’m going to try my utmost to make it a success.

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So much of the narrative between Stuart and I of late refers to happiness, and family, and what’s actually important in life. We work for the majority of our life and why would we want to do something that makes us unhappy, or where we have to hold back our own characters? For money, success, status? Perhaps I just don’t have what it takes, but I can’t seem to get on with the career thing.

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It’s the same for the PhD. What would my reasons for continuing be? To say I did it? So I didn’t have to say I didn’t? To tick the ‘Dr’ box on forms? It certainly isn’t for career advancement because – as far as I can tell – having a PhD gains you no experience or employability. Rather it detracts by making you seem overqualified and under experienced, unless you choose to try and stay in academia, which from my solitary experience requires far too much in the way of people pleasing and “networking” – code for a high school style navigation of egotistical waters. Why would I continue? Professional pride and a fear of having wasted the last four years. But wasn’t a waste! It truly wasn’t. These pictures attest to such.

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So I think I will leave it behind. I’ll let go of that dream for one more modest. One where I can control my own fate and determine my own success, where hopefully my work ethic and enthusiasm are enough.

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I’ll keep up to date of my progress into childminding and hopefully start converting the blog into this new route too.

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Something has changed in the last month for Stuart and I both, and it’s a shift in outlook that we are now making into practice. Hopefully it will make things better for our whole family.

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Roslyn’s 2nd Birthday

I posted the weekend pictures thinking the blog I wrote was there but somehow wordpress decided no, my return to blogging should be a kind of silent film affair. So this is officially me back. Unless I manage to screw up posting this too. And if I do you won’t know.

Anyway! There was quite a hiatus there. Five months or so. I just felt I had nothing to say. And if I had wanted to say something it wouldn’t have been all that positive. The job situation was awful (something which has been resolved, for me anyway) and I was submitting my thesis, so blogging took a back seat. But here I am again ready to spam you with pictures of my kids and ramblings about things you probably don’t care about. I will continue though, because there are some exciting changes afoot which I will come to in the next few posts.

For now though it’s a hello I’m back and goodbye I’m off to go to the west end festival with my family. So enjoy pictures from Roslyn’s 2nd brithday, we had a cowgirl party!

Ciao!

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SNOW

It might be two weeks after Christmas but, it SNOWED!

I was driving home from work when it started and by the time I got to the house it was lying. I went inside and made dinner. It was almost bedtime for Sandy and Rozzie and Sandy was watching the snow. I asked if he wanted to play in it in the morning. “YES! I get my wellies!” He shouted. I was about to say “no, in the morning” then from the kitchen Stuart said “If it lasts…” and I thought, what the hell, let’s get out there. So we did.

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Even more glad we did because by morning the snow was all powder and we wouldn’t have been able to make a snowman.

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True to form we didn’t just make a snowman…

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WOOF!

The next morning we went out too and played.

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The last time Rozzie was in the snow she was barely sitting up!

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So beautiful.

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Sandy loved the icicle hanging from his climbing frame canopy.

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As did this little beauty.

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Here’s hoping we will have a little more before winter is over.

Thanks for coming snow!

Christmas, we are ready!

5 hours until it’s Christmas! So exciting!

It seems with Sandy and Roslyn each year gets better and better. They understand it more, their routines constrain the day less and generally they just have a more jolly time of it.

This Christmas eve we had nothing to do other than a quick jaunt to the shops to grab some last minute essentials (nappies, wipes, pepsi and pastry). So once we were back and Rozzie had napped we made some Christmas pies for Santa.

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Christmas pies are my version of mince pies, they look exactly like them, but don’t have the same filling. Instead its a kind of spicy coconut cheesecake base instead.

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Sandy is really excellent at baking now, stirring, measuring and rolling out dough. Roslyn on the other hand…

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Well, she enjoys being involved!

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Our pies turned out lovely and we played for a while before dinner.

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Our festive spread had meats, cheeses, pates and crackers for us and lorne sausage and chicken nuggets for the kids. The usual then. Yep.

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After dinner the kids had a bath and we all donned our new matching tartan jammies!!

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(Roslyn’s aren’t actually new, they were Sandy’s two years ago, shhhhh!)

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Then we headed downstairs to make some last minute preparations for Santa.

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The kids laid out their pillowcases…

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…and helped get a carrot for the reindeer and a christmas pie and milk for Santa.

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Check out Roslyn taking the task very seriously *melt*

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Aside from the tempestuous nature of one young lady at time we had a fabulous Christmas eve.

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They are both fast asleep now and we can’t wait for the morning to see what magic has happened overnight…

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Merry Christmas Eve!!

Christmas Craft: Snow Globes and Decorations

We put up our Christmas decorations slightly early this year, mostly due to scheduling issues. Things have been a bit up in the air what with my new job and not knowing my rota for this month until it was happening.

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The kids were pretty excited to find all the decorations, especially the snowman army.

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They take a lot of pleasure in little things which is lovely to see.

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Note Roslyn hugging the snowman like Sandy used to. That very snowman was the one Sandy toted around between 18 and 21 months old, calling it his “babee” and looking after it. He shortly after replaced that babee with his real one, and she will probably be known as babee when she enters school!

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We made some snow globes using old jars, christmas figures and some white glitter. I didn’t think it through though and set them up to make them only to realise once we glued the figures on we could do nothing else until the glue dried!

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We tried passing the time with some DSLR selfies (hard to do) but they weren’t having it.

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So I cracked open the craft tub my brother got me for my birthday last year and we made some decorations (the one thing our tree does NOT need more of!!)

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Sandy made his all by himself and I think it is utterly adorable!

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Roslyn did a penguin and apart from the coloured in nose and hat it was all her… even the eyes! So impressed!

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She put it on the tree and seemed pretty content with it.

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Sandy put on mine and his.

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We still had a little time to kill so Sandy dressed up as his idol, Ezra Furman, in a dress with pearls.

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Then we filled the jars with water, glitter and a drop of glycerin (to stop the snow falling too quickly) and glued the lids into place.

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Sandy loved his and I think they turned out really special!

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Christmas Decoration Craft

I came across some old silver hoops the other day and decided to get out the glue gun and some wooden stars from Hobbycraft so Sandy and Roslyn could help craft them into decorations.

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Firstly the kids painted the wooden stars red and green and we stamped on the back an S or an R so we knew who had done each one.

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Sandy was very particular with his painting, exerting a lot of concentration to get each star totally covered!

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We let the stars dry and then I did the fiddly bits the kids couldn’t manage; using the glue gun to stick on invisible elastic thread over the hoop to form a transparent web which would hold the stars. Next Sandy helped stick down two stars to each hoop; one of his and one of Roslyn’s on each.

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Finally we added some pva over the decorations and the kids went glitter happy!

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I think the finished decorations look fabulous and we can’t wait to give them out to family to hang on their trees!

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Halloween Party

It’s not that often that Halloween falls on a Saturday so this year we took advantage and threw a Halloween Party for our friends and family.

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Sandy went as Super Boy! He’s been learning all about super heroes at nursery recently so it was easy to pick a costume that he would be keen to wear. He’s not really one for dress up so it has to be something he really wants to make him put it on. I also got around the cape strangulation risk by making his own cape to popper on to his shirt!

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Roslyn went as a black cat. Initially I was thinking of wizard for Sandy and Roslyn as his black cat (previous Halloweens will indicate that I’m a big fan of the joint costume) but as he turned to super boy we just kept the cat for Roslyn as it was so cute (and very easy too). Funnily enough though I went as a burglar (mostly because I already had a striped top) and my Mum commented that the pair of us were a cat burglar, especially when I was wearing her ears which was most of the night because she wasn’t all that keen on them!

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I love this picture it’s like good vs evil and look at his little super face!

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(N.b. said cat ears, already discarded)

And what of the man who seemingly hates Halloween? The man who wouldn’t dress up for work and refuses to open the door to guisers? Well he was good enough to allow me to drape a sheet over his head for the sake of his children. That’s the spirit! (get it?!?!)

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So we got dressed and awaited the arrival of our spooky guests…

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… and once everyone had arrived we went old school and brought out the Halloween games. Firstly, donuts on a string.

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It’s meant to be scones dipped in treacle but I have a cream carpet and donuts already have the hole!

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You have to eat it without using your hands. Last year Sandy just took it and didn’t heed the rules but he made a good attempt this time!

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Craig and Scot made a good stab at it…

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… and Stuart (who had already shed his costume) got stuck in (for carbs mind, not halloween jollity).

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Next up was dooking for apples and we didn’t do any of that prissy forks on the back of a chair stuff. I caught one buy the stalk and was told I was cheating (boo!) so I left it up to the younger generations…

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Sandy loved trying to get an apple…

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… and Roslyn loved soaking herself.

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Craig was the all out apple champion…

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…and Scot made a good effort too!

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After the games we had food (pumpkin soup and bloody severed fingers in rolls (aka hotdogs) and then hit the streets for some guising. People are so generous and Sandy and Roslyn came home with more treats than they could carry.

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We had a fab night and it was well worth it. Thanks to all our friends and family who came!