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.

Recap – Ice Skating and Edinburgh’s Christmas

I lied. Teasing of pictures of the big day and all you get are some of us skidding around on frozen water. But also…

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… this. Exhibit A: How I don’t put her up for adoption after she is a complete buttock. Which she is. Often. Daily.

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Anyways, off to Edinburgh. We went by train because, you know, driving into Edinburgh is like cycling to the moon, which sadly broke my vow never to travel by Scotrail again (the details of I will spare you from, lucky you).

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We got there early and hit up Costa for some hot chocolate and babychinos. Notice in this picture how my baby looks about twenty (wtaf?)

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Aaaaand back to 2. Phew.

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I’d booked for just me and Sandy to go on the ice and at first this was vindicated because he found it pretty tricky to get around on the little skatey attachments he had.

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But soon after we nicked a penguin aid and realised he could stand on the other side so I could fly round with him knocking little children and the elderly out the way (jk)…

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…Rozzie got in on the action too.

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As we went round little white blobs started falling out of the sky and I was all “oh my god Sandy it’s snowing… JUST FOR US!!!” and it wasn’t until after I realised it was eight degrees and the snow was fake foam pumped out for ambiance. Ah well, it was still amazing.

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After this we meet lovely Emma for lunch and hit up the Christmas market with her, going on the big wheel in Edinburgh for the first time.

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Stuart made a good effort at not looking like he hated it.

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Me, on the other hand…

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It was a great day, perfected of course by a cancelled train home and therefore a nap for Roslyn and my feeling vindicated in how crap Scotrail are.

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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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!

Our Family Christmas

Apologies for this post being so late and somewhat out of season, but here it is, our family christmas in photos!

We started Christmas morning with Roslyn crying down her monitor at 5:45 as per usual so brought her through to our bed to watch some twirlywoos while we awaited Sandy rousing.

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In the end Roslyn knocked on his door to wake him. He wasn’t all that pleased at first but as I whispered to him about Santa having been he sprung into life and was so excited to see our stockings all filled. We took them into our bedroom and opened them on the bed.

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Then we headed downstairs and discovered that Santa and the reindeer had enjoyed their treats and he had left a few more gifts under the tree.

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We took a break from presents for a nutritious Christmas breakfast…

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… then got back to opening and playing.

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The highlight of our gifts to Sandy was his Ezra Furman shirt and records.

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He really loved them.

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He was also very taken with Buzz Lightyear!

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Roslyn got Jesse and seemed to like her but generally was rather crabby all of Christmas day due to the dreaded incisors.

I lamented to family later that I spent a fair bit of time in between getting dressed to go out refereeing a fight over a christmas present from last year – not looked at in months – which suddenly was back in favour with each of them at exactly the same moment. How convenient.

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Next we headed over to the Findlays and had fun opening more presents, perusing the menu of Shug’s diner, and having some much needed down time from the whining of miss Roslyn as she napped!

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This year I wasn’t doing Christmas dinner at ours which was quite a nice break, as much as I do like being a host.

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Mum hosted and cooked and the only thing I was required to bring was my homemade pudding wine (which was good) and the parsnips and carrots. I’d saved the ones in my garden for the occasion and had been surprised when I went out in the pissing rain on Christmas eve to uproot them to find they were mostly a bloody foot long and required a lot of digging with the fork to retrieve. Worth it though, as they were tasty.

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I got a bit snap happy at the dinner table between starter and main so I’ll just leave these here for now…

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Here is Roslyn actually eating something. THANK GOD…

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… and here is Sandy eating, well , a cracker.

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Jamie clearly onto my attempts at candid photography by that point.

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Here I managed to put Sandy off of crackers for life by slightly punching him in the face. Bad mum.

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And here is our girl the cheeriest she was all day, because for once she wasn’t starving herself! She loves her “aimee” and wasn’t shy in telling us all exactly that.

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Soon it was time for the littles to get to bed so we could, you know, actually open our own presents. So jammies were donned and off to bed they went.

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We then played our christmas seceret santa gift game which was a roaring success once again.

All in all it was a fabulous and busy day which even included a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE!!! Roslyn and Sandy were both woken, driven home, and put back into bed with little disruption and slept through to the morning. Thank you baby Jesus!

Our 2015: A Family Recap

Here is our 2015:

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In January we had snow and Sandy started saying “snowball!!” when he threw things (not necessarily snowballs).

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This girl started to stand up, but she also hit up the hospital again for what would be the first of countless trips to ward 19 this year.

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In February Stuart and I had our first child free outing since Roslyn was born (!)

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Sandy turned 30 months old and I lamented that he was so grown up (how original) and the pair of them enjoyed toddler athletics classes.

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March was my last month as a PhD student and my last month having days just me and Roslyn so we made the most of it by swimming.

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The weather finally turned and we got some time to play at the park before I embarked on a new career!

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In April we hunted eggs and played in the garden.

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We watched this little bunny turn 11 months…

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… and in May one whole year.

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May also saw first steps, first shoes and first weddings.

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June was for festivals and outdoor adventures…

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… be they on the beach or in the back garden. The sun didn’t shine for long this year but we made the most of it when it did.

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In July we embarked on our ambitious holiday roadtrip and had a blast.

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We may have missed the lakes due to illness but we made the most of it in Wales before we came home.

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August was a big month for a little boy who not only turned three…

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… but also went to nursery.

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Sandy adjusted to new routines in September with the help of his partner in crime.

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We continued our summer outings, making the most of a late surge of good weather.

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In October Daddy got a year older and a new car (daddy’s blue car)…

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…and we celebrated ghosts and ghouls for Halloween.

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November was all about the fireworks, with Sandy’s first real show at Strathclyde Park…

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…and Rozzie’s first sparkler with family on my birthday.

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And finally in December we donned our gay apparel and awaited a visit from Santa.

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What a great year and we are looking forward to another just as fun.

Happy New Year everyone, here’s to a fabulous 2016!

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!!

Wreath

We FINALLY got round to making our Christmas wreath this year.

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I was waiting and waiting for a day where I had the kids and it wasn’t raining. Such a day did not materialise until a day Stuart was off when the rain broke for two hours in the afternoon and we just managed to get our wreath walk in before the rain came back on.

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Our foliage foraging area is in Baron’s Haugh, a fabulous hidden park in the middle of Motherwell.

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It has several holly bushes and lots of expansive conifers to take a few cuttings from to create a beautiful wreath.

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The holly bush surrounds an open platform area making it into a little den which Sandy named “the holly house”. Stuart, Sandy and Rozzie played in the house while I snipped a few sprigs complete with berries.

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I was glad to have Stuart with us, not only because it is much easier to coral two wandering kids with two bodies, but also for the height advantage.

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Roslyn wasn’t feeling herself all day but she perked up when she got out for her walk.

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It didn’t last long though because she promptly face planted into a puddle of mud.

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After that was resolved it was time for a quick trip to the river and the bridge with no sides which causes Stuart to lose control of his bowels before heading home just as the rain came on.

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I was beginning to think there would be no time for a wreath this year due to how busy we are but luckily we fit it in and I’m really glad we did as I smile every time I see the wreath hanging from our door!

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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Pass the Wine

With young children it is often “one of those days”. In fact, sometimes a week can be made of more days like that than ones you commit to the internet archives of happy family life blogging. These kind of days will invariably start before 5am, and usually see multiple uneaten breakfasts at the side of the sink by half 6. There will be shouting and a fair deal of crying. Undoubtedly something will get thrown (food, shoes, tantrums). You will avoid going out and taking the circus sideshow of your life on the road, and then regret that decision immensely once it is too late to do it and cabin fever sets in. These days consistently end in a forced early bed time despite the inevitable impact it will have on tomorrow’s waking hour; but that’s the next day’s problem (good luck future me).

You know your friends have had these types of days as you go on social media by their comments, statuses or as they all indicate the need for alcohol to be administered quickly. By the number of days like this I get in a week it is no wonder my feed is always full of “pass the wine”, “where’s the gin?” and “prosecco o’clock”. And it’s completely understandable.

But what of us who don’t drink? How do we unwind from a day of being wound up by the tyrannical little copies of our DNA we thought it was a fabulous idea to make?

I advise that the following slogans be adopted on social media for the parents of young children who don’t drink. Be you a former alcoholic, allergic to said substances, or just allergic to the helicopter head and hangovers which seem to follow any form of drinking these days (me), embrace these as your own ways to cope with the trials of toddlerhood.

1.Pass me £15 worth of chocolate

You know, so you can gorge yourself silly and then spend the only child free time you have that day feeling like you are going to puke then feel remorseful about your actions grabbing your pot belly in front of the mirror the next morning. Negatives aside there is something deeply satisfying about taking your adult money that you made doing adult pursuits and spending an irrationally large amount of it on the one thing you weren’t allowed much of at the same age as your children are now. You may be able to break me, young charges, but you can’t eat three double deckers in one sitting like me.

2. Where’s my Phone?

You need it to text my ever-faithful partner about how goddamn awful it is being a slave to two little dictators who will send back their lunch order of “NO! I WANT TOAST!” three times due to “no butter”, “too much butter”, and “I no like butter”. And also, to remind him that HE is the lucky one, sitting in a chair as much as he likes at work, fetching a hot drink at his leisure , getting a LUNCH BREAK and not having to clean anything at all. Including bums. Your phone is also necessary to send him your harshest thoughts about your darling offspring in order that you don’t actually vent these thoughts to them and send them into a lifetime of counselling, oh and to repeatedly google “why won’t my bloody toddler nap” and “child won’t stop screaming” as a last attempt at some miraculous cure for a stubborn personality the internet has kept hidden from you for over three years now.#

3. Drive Round the Block in Protest O’clock

When things just get too much and simply going into the bathroom and locking the door so you can scream into a hand towel while listening to your kids harmonising the word “muuuummmmmeeeee” from through two inches of wood won’t work, it’s time to storm out. Adding a phrase of discontent usually gives context to your beautiful family: “I HAVE TO GET OUT OF THIS HOUSE!”; “I CAN’T TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”; or “I’M NEVER COMING BACK!”. Of course you get outside onto the estate looking like a deranged scarecrow, dressed at best in filthy clothes covered in your own tears, and at worst pyjamas minus a bra. So you get straight into your car and think ‘I’m just going to DRIVE AWAY”. By the time you’ve gotten to the end of your estate though it’s time to go home and forgive and forget, or at least go to the shop and look into option 1 (above).

So as you can you really don’t need to force yourself to drink alcohol in order to illustrate that you have a breaking point and need to unwind after one of those days. You merely need to channel your inner sociopath! It’s the way we parents cope with the stress of toddlerhood and come out the other end of bad days with an Instagram feed full of glorious pictures of our perfect and happy family to pass on to our loved ones to show just how cherished our little people are. And you know what, despite the bad days, they really are worth it.