Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This is going to be my last post of 2015. We'll soon be heading off to the welcoming snugness of Grandpa John and Granny Viv's house in the depths of the Cornish countryside, all log-burning stoves, good food, good company, and lots of E&W fussing. One of the best things about it is that it's so remote, there's no mobile phone signal, and if I don't ask for the wi-fi password I can't get distracted from the people around me by the lure of Facebook or Twitter. A week 'off the grid' sounds pretty good to me right now, and I can't wait to spend some some quality time with Kate, Eliza, William and some of the rest of the family.

You see, last Christmas, our first as a quartet, is pretty much a write-off for me. I have almost no memory of it - what we did, what we ate, the gifts we exchanged are at best hazy, at worst complete blanks. And that's not because of overindulgence. At the time we were in the midst of trying to get E&W's sleep routine right (and often getting it wrong), still getting up several times a night to feed them, so I can only assume that I was far more tired than I realised at the time and running on autopilot. Kate tells me we spent Christmas night cuddled on the sofa, doing the puzzles in my Where's Wally Annual 2015 (the same book that E&W delight in destroyi...I mean playing with now), by the soft glow of fairy lights, in near silence lest we wake the little people who were snoring in their bouncy chairs on the floor in front of us. It sounds like a lovely moment, but I only have the faintest tinkle of a memory of it. Which is a real shame. 

We have photos though, to prove that Christmas did happen here, and looking back at them the first thing that strikes me is how small - and hairless - E&W were:
And yes, family Christmas jumpers and socks is our first Christmas tradition. We're going to take a photo every Christmas morning, so we can see how E&W grow (and how Kate and I age) over the years. Wait till you see this year's sartorial selections!

I'm really looking forward to this Christmas. If nothing else, E&W will have great larks exploring all the nooks and crannies and interesting things in Grandpa and Granny's house. And while they don't fully appreciate what this Christmas thing is all about yet, they love fairy lights (they were scared of them last year!) and they can open presents, and realise they're for them, and that what's inside the wrapping paper is new and shiny and exciting. Our friends Ollie and Holly came to visit last weekend, and had very generously brought a box of Duplo with them as an early Christmas present - E&W had great fun exploring all the bits, and I (very selflessly...cough) showed them how it's all supposed to go together. And I was very grown up and didn't get (too) upset when Eliza decided I was wrong and gleefully pulled apart my marvellous creations. 

[As an aside, the thought of Ollie - who is possibly the most physically intimidating person I know, and also one of the most kind-hearted (I'd go as far as to say he's one of my favourite people, full stop) - stomping into a toy shop, perusing the Duplo shelves, then stomping over to the counter to pay for his brightly-coloured selection, makes me chuckle.]

I think we're still a year away from having a full-on family Christmas (E&W will be a few months past two this time next year). I'm so looking forward to them getting excited to the point they can't sleep on Christmas Eve, and of bustling into our room early on Christmas morning (feel free to remind me of these bold statements in the future). I'm looking forward to all the family traditions we can start - we already have the spotting-the-Christmas-lights-on-our-walks game, and the Christmas jumpers and socks photos. Then there are things like singing along to carols, reading certain books in the run-up to the big day (we're doing John Masefield's Box of Delights this year), and helping to decorate the house, and all cuddling on the sofa to watch It's A Wonderful Life (the Sam Wainwright telegram bit gets me every. single. time.) and...

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm going to hold off thinking about next Christmas until at least January 1st. First, I'm going to throw myself fully into enjoying this one. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to (again!) thank everyone who reads this blog for your support and encouragement. I've said before that I love writing this blog, and it's really heartening to know that there are people out there enjoying my witterings. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas, and a great start to 2016. See you in the New Year!

PS I'm really chuffed to have this blog included in the December 2015 Dad's Round Up at BritMums, particularly as I'm in some very good company - the other blogs mentioned are really good reads, so go and give them a try! :)

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

The Hurray! Oh No! Moment

One of the (many, many) things I love about this parenting lark is how a seemingly difficult moment can be transformed into a magical one by something your child does. An itchy-eyed, witching hour comforting session seems less painful when your child snuggles into you and sighs deeply. Hefting a flat-tyred double pushchair up the steep hill to home seems far less effort when one of the passengers looks up at you adoringly and cracks a big grin. Cleaning up the mess from a 'demonstrative' meal time is less of a chore when you start getting patted affectionately on top of the head as you're cleaning under a high chair.

There are also moments I've taken to calling 'Hurray! Oh No! Moments'. These are those times when your child shows off a new skill for the first time that makes you go 'Hurray!' (often out loud...or perhaps that's just me) and swell up with pride at them being so clever and perfect and strong and agile and amazing, only for you to realise, mere milliseconds later, that this is perhaps not actually something to celebrate too loudly (hence the Oh No! part)

Some examples (the first part of each being the ‘Hurray!’, the second part - in italics - being the ‘Oh No!’):

They master the art of crawling. They can now lead us a merry dance all around the open-plan sitting/dining room/kitchen.

They get tall enough and stable enough to reach the top of the sideboard/table. Everything breakable has to now be moved up a level.
William works out how to unscrew a jar of hand cream. William can now spread hand cream all over himself/his sister/the cat/my pillow [He went for the pillow, which I suppose was the preferable option, given a pillow can't throw a tantrum or seek revenge].

They work out how to stalk the cat using a pincer movement (like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park). They can now harass the poor cat even more than just pointing at him and shrieking “CA!”.
Eliza manages to climb up onto the sofa without help. Eliza can now try and do Macho Man diving elbow drops onto Fudge the Bunny/her brother/the cat.

Eliza and William work out how to turn my bedside lamp on, and find it delightfully cackle-worthy. Heaven help our electricity bills.
Eliza is strong- and coordinated-enough to push her brother around in their little stroller cart. Eliza can now drive her brother into the wall/the cat at quite a high speed.
They master climbing the stairs without assistance. They can now climb the stairs without assistance.

William works out how to open a door. IS NOWHERE SAFE FROM THEM NOW!?

But all in all, I'll happily put up with the 'Oh No!' parts, because the 'Hurray!' parts are just so shout-it-from-the-rooftops wonderful.

PS I saw on old friend on the sidelines of an American football game (go Reading Knights!) the other weekend and he told me that he enjoyed reading this blog. It made my day. I mainly write for the sheer pleasure of writing, but I doubt there's a blogger out there who doesn't like the idea of people reading their work and getting some enjoyment from it. So thank you, Rob - I really appreciate your kind words.

PPS This isn't a subtle 'please tell me you like the blog' prompt. Honest.

PPPS But feel free to if you want to :-)

PPPPS And then go and tell the authors of every blog you like that you enjoy their work. Go on. Spread the love. It's nearly Christmas!

Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions, give feedback, or make suggestions for what you'd like to see me write about (I'll happily do requests!) below - and please share this blog with anyone you think might be interested in it. Thank you!