31 Dec 2015

My December 2015

December has been fast-paced, intense and has come and gone way too quickly. Like the whole year, in fact. Without wanting to sound like a broken record, I can’t believe today is the last day of 2015 and another year has drawn to a close. This is nuts! I always feel a little apprehensive and melancholic at the end of each year. I don’t know why, but somehow I always put a lot of meaning and symbolism on the end of one 12 month period and the beginning of the next. Like one era is coming to an end, and another one is about to start, and I’m always anxious what the next one will bring. I can’t help it, but I’m a little nervous of 2016, like I am at New Year’s Eve of every year. It’s silly, really, isn’t it? It’s just another day following another day and so on, but somehow to me it represents so much more. So here’s hoping that 2016 will be a good year and one I can look back on this time next year with fondness and happy memories.

On that note, here are my highlights of December, which has been very much dominated by Christmas and lots of festive activities and shenanigans.

1. Putting up our Christmas tree. This year we decided not to get our usual real tree and opt for a fake one instead. And I have to say, I am a convert, I loved our tree. Becky helped me decorate it and we had quite a few personalised paraphernalia on it that the kids brought back from nursery / school. I will always have a soft spot for real trees, but the practicalities of the fake one are pretty convincing. 

2. Becky went to see Santa and had a lovely time. He must have known that she had been a good girl all year, judging by the amount of presents she got for Christmas!

3. Becky took part in her first nativity play at school, and I can’t even find the superlatives to describe just how cute, lovely and moving it was – and beautifully produced, too! Rarely have I felt more proud and joyous than at that moment seeing my little snowflake.

4. A few days later it was Becky’s birthday and she turned five. We had a party for her at our village hall with lots of her friends and she had a great time dressed as a fairy. 

5. I did a spot of partying myself, don't you know! It was our office Christmas party, and it was lovely. The food was great, the drinks were flowing, and it was brilliant to let my hair down a bit and do some Mum dancing *ahem*. Last year I was on maternity leave and the year before I was pregnant and couldn't enjoy a drink, so I made the most of my rare opportunity to have a social life and to catch up with my friends and colleagues outside of work. 

6. December was also the month we sat down with Becky and watched some Christmas movie classics, complete with a tub of Ben & Jerrys. I think this is the making of a family tradition. 

7. A few days before Christmas we set off for Germany to spend the holidays with my parents. This year we decided to drive and take the ferry. It happened to be a really stormy day, and certainly not the best conditions to be on a boat. But … as a seasoned traveller on all forms of transport, including the ferry, I was up for it and just a little bit smug when John said he was feeling a bit queasy when we first drove onto the vessel. Suffice to say that he got his own back shortly after, when Becky and I were puking our guts out and him and Alex were absolutely fine, riding the waves as if it was a joy ride at Alton Towers, while I just wanted to get off. Thankfully the return journey was a lot calmer, but I’m not sure I’ll want to be on a ferry during a storm – or any other time for that matter – any time soon.

8. We spent Christmas with my parents in Germany, where we celebrate the big event on Christmas Eve. Becky and Alex got lots of presents and were utterly spoilt by Oma & Opa.

9. And finally, John took the chance during some quiet time on Christmas Day to teach Becky how to play chess. And what do you know, she’s a natural. Soon she’ll beat me at it (which, to be fair, is not difficult). I love this picture. John and Becky have such a lovely relationship. They are best buddies and have got so much fun together. I love watching them together and overhearing their fabulous conversations.

So this is it, this was my December. I wish everyone a brilliant last day of 2015 and a happy, merry and healthy 2016!

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30 Dec 2015

My bedroom, my sanctuary


I’ve always had a massive love affair with my bed. Especially since I’ve had kids it is without a doubt my favourite place in the world. Maybe it’s the fact that once you’ve experienced sleep deprivation to the extreme, you appreciate your bed and the value of a good night’s sleep a lot more than when you can take it for granted.

Saying that, it’s not just my bed, in fact, my bedroom as a whole has become a lot more important to me over the last few years than it ever was. As a busy Mum who works full time, my bedroom has become something of a sanctuary to me, my haven of sanity if you will, where I can retreat to when I need five minutes of peace and quiet, or just close my eyes for a couple of minutes and take a breather. And of course, to retire to for a – hopefully – good night’s sleep.

When I was younger and sans kids, my bedroom was mainly a practical room, housing my wardrobe, chest of drawers and bed, and whilst I’ve always liked nice décor, functionality prevailed. This has really changed, and over the years I have put a lot more emphasis on nice interiors, practical but also stylish furniture, nice bedding, luxurious cushions and bedspreads, as well as sumptuous curtains to finish off the room, all to create a cosy, calm and comfortable space.

The pictures above and below show the type of feel and style that I like – a mixture of boutique hotel and real, lived in homes that aren’t just for show, where I can retreat to, but where the kids can also jump and bounce on the bed or come to snuggle with us. I like tranquil and neutral colours, and tonal mixtures of off-whites, creams, greys and lavish metallics, and a splash of colour here and there.


I’ve been lucky enough to have received some lovely new bed linen from John Lewis for Christmas, which fits in well with our current colour scheme. You can’t beat the feeling of crisp, new and fresh bed linen when you climb into bed at night! My Mum also gave me a gorgeous dusky, charcoaly blue throw (read: I loved it so much, I begged her to give it to me, and bless her, she did! you can find similar here), which will complement this well.

Even before Christmas and those lovely bedroom presents, I had been looking to upgrade our curtains and invest in proper black-out ones, both for privacy and to create the right sleep environment. We currently have a black-out blind, but it still lets in light through the gaps and is getting a bit tired looking anyway, so I’ve been searching for a stylish set of curtains that will do the proper job while also complementing our bedroom décor and finishing off the look. It’s especially important to me to get some proper black-out curtains, as Alex is still sleeping with us in our bedroom until we either move or create the room in our house for his own nursery. And as he’s that bit older now, he is more aware or light changes and prone to waking, so once the nights turn shorter again, I’ll need a decent set of black-out curtains to prevent him from waking at ungodly hours.

Luckily, blackout curtains are every inch as elegant as their regular counterparts and they come in all sorts of shades, patterns and textures. The Yorkshire Linen Company offers a huge amount of choice at great value for money, which is fab when you want to refresh the look of your room frequently with new colour injections and different styles of curtains and accessories. I’ve got my eye on their textured range, I just need to decide on whether to go for a lighter or darker shade of grey (choices, choices!).

Earlier in the summer we bought some new, all white, bedroom furniture, which is handy as most colour schemes go with this and I can change the accessories as the mood takes me. Once I’ve updated the bedding and soft furnishings, all that is left to do is to get a new bed frame with a soft, opulent head board *our current bed frame is a minimalist wooden one, which is nice, but quite dangerous as the kids keep banging their heads on it when they bounce on our bed*, and mission bedroom sanctuary will be all but complete.

*Collaborative post. Picture source: Pinterest.

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16 Dec 2015

Becky's Birthday Party


So it was Becky’s birthday party on Saturday. Last year we had a joint party with her friend at a gymnastics centre, followed by food & cake in the adjacent party-room. This year, however, I wanted to do something different for Becky, so we decided on a Fairies & Pirates party (not so much in honour of this blog, though it is obviously fitting, ha!, but more to appease Becky’s obsession with fairies and to create a male equivalent for her little boy friends).

I hired our local village hall, and after much deliberation about the entertainment, I decided to go with a kid’s dance and party instructor, as quite frankly, the thought of entertaining 15 little ones myself made me shudder. Thankfully it was worth the extra expense, as the lady was brilliant.
For just over an hour she got the kids to dance, sing and use up some energy, as well as played a whole host of popular party games, which all the girls and boys loved. She even got the more shy kiddies involved – no mean feat!

Here’s my little birthday fairy. Meanwhile, Alex kept sneaking off and eating his way through all the sandwiches, crisps and cupcakes when he thought no one was watching, the little tinker!


Here’s Becky blowing out her 5 candles – good job Becky!


All in all, she had a brilliant party and still keeps talking about it. I’m so pleased that she had a day to remember.

This is Becky the next (very early) morning, on her actual birthday, unwrapping her presents. Lucky girl! 


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13 Dec 2015

Birthday Girl


Becky turned five this weekend. Five! It's a cliché, but I literally can't believe that this little bundle that came into our world and turned our lives upside down is 5 already.

It feels momentous. Last year, when she turned four, she still felt small to me, no longer a toddler, granted, but definitely still a small child. Now - well, she is undeniably a big girl. My baby is growing up. Fast. Too fast. But that's life, and it’s lovely to see her blossom all the same.

This year was a big year for Becky. She left her nursery world behind and started big school. It felt like a significant milestone at the time, and it's definitely contributed to Becky's rapid and tangible development. She's learning to read and write, she’s got a large circle of friends, her own style and boy, does she have her own mind!

She is so articulate for a 5-year-old. I always marvel at just how rich her vocabulary is and the complex sentence structures she is using and how colourful her expressions are. And she loves putting on hilarious different accents, especially American, which she has picked up through various TV shows and programmes, which regularly has us in stitches. She's getting good at German, too, which makes me very happy, and she’s generally so eager to learn and absorbs everything like a little sponge.  

She asks a hundred questions an hour, her inquisitive mind trying to grasp the world and make sense of it, while all the while often driving me nuts with constant chitter chatter. She’s our little chatterbox *some might say she has that from her Mum* and she knows it, regularly starting her sentences with: “Mummy, I know I’m being a chatterbox, but …” How can I resist?

She's a proper girly girl. She’s into all things My Little Pony, Barbies and Disney Princesses. She still likes Frozen, though it has moved down the favourites list and now lags behind Monster High, Team Umizoomi and Equestria Girls, and instead of CBeebies she now watches CBBC or girly films on Netflix, because that’s what big girls do, right?

She's so gorgeous and lovely. I often look at her and can't believe that she is mine. She's got a cracking sense of humour and a cheeky side, too, but I wouldn’t have her any other way. Most importantly she is kind, caring and generous; for instance, she loves to make little presents and cards for all her friends all the time. And she's so creative, I adore all the things she thinks up and crafts every day.

She's fiercely independent and wants to do everything herself. She's been like this ever since she was a baby and with every birthday this independence increases. And that’s a good thing, even though her mummy still has to get used to the pace this is all happening at.

My little girl is growing up. But she will always be my baby.

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My Sunday Photo 13th December 2015

                                                                                                 * Picture: Jeanette Sakel 

It was Becky's school's nativity play earlier this week, and the first time Becky was involved in a school play. She was a little snowflake! Needless to say that I was bursting with pride!


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9 Dec 2015

The Social Life of a 5 Year-old


One of the many realisations that come with parenthood is that from about the age of three, your child will have a better social life than you. Fact.

Not only is grown up social life non-existent because you’re frankly too tired to go out, or what with arranging babysitters and allocated drivers, it turns into a bit of faff anyway, or because you simply can’t afford a hangover the next day (being up with kids on a hangover is a killer, as we all know). But it's mainly because your diary will be dominated by your kids’ social - shall we say - “commitments”.

Ever since Becky turned three, and because she has been going to nursery, she has been a little social butterfly. She’s a jovial and fun-loving girl, and she has lots of friends, so rarely a weekend goes by when we don’t meet with one or several of her friends (luckily their Mums have become my good friends, too, so it works out ok), or where we’re not heading from one kids’ party, soft play or gymnastics centre to the next.

The picture above shows the invites she’s brought home just over the course of the last week alone! I can only dream of being this much in demand! But I don’t mind, I’m glad Becky is forming these bonds and friendships and is making the most of it.

I just have to embrace and organise my expanded role as social secretary. And probably invest in a bigger calendar. 
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7 Dec 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas


Our tree and decorations went up a few days ago, and now it’s starting to look really Christmassy in our house. John and I have had a real tree ever since we moved in together, however, this year is the first time that we have opted for a fake one, as the only viable space in the house for the tree is next to the radiator, and every year, after the initial glorious first impression, the tree starts to dry out (despite watering) and look sorry for itself within a few days, so we decided to go for a fake one instead. I must say, I am rather pleased with how it looks. Becky is super excited, too, and keeps counting down the days – first until her birthday, and then Christmas, so December is a big month for her.

Alex is still a little too young to understand the concept, but I think he does get that something is up. He keeps looking at our Christmas tree and pointing at it, and he’s tried a few times to pull on the baubles and the branches, but I’ve managed to stop him just in time. Hopefully he’ll lose interest soon and the tree will be safe for another few weeks.

It's impossible to get them both to sit still and look in the camera at the same time! 

This year – all being well – we are planning on going to Germany for Christmas. We usually alternate between Germany and Wales on an annual basis, but we haven’t, in fact, spent a Christmas with my parents since 2012. In 2013 we were due in Wales and 2014 Alex was still really tiny and it just didn’t seem right to drag him through planes, trains and automobiles, so we stayed at home and had a Christmas just for the four of us for the first time. We are, therefore, really overdue a visit.

In Germany we celebrate Christmas, or the big event with presents and the full shebang, on Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day, so Becky and Alex will experience a different slant on the celebrations this year. I think I will explain to Becky that Santa is travelling all through the night and gets to Germany first and then he’s home in England in the morning. Hopefully this will make sense to her.

Lighting our Advent wreath - a German tradition I'm carrying on in the UK. 

It’s a funny one, really, because the kids will grow up with two different influences from Germany and the UK, so the Christmas traditions we are making as a little family of four are a mixture of both cultures. Hopefully they’ll look back on their childhood and the Christmases we have spent as a family with fondness when they are older.

For John and I Christmas can’t come soon enough, too. Life has been very busy for both of us lately, and I can’t wait to just chill for two weeks and do nothing other than spending time with my family and the kids. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so run down and exhausted, and I’m struggling a bit keeping going – so I can’t wait to be spending Christmas at home, to be pampered by my Mum and make the most of the precious time we all have together. Because Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it? 


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6 Dec 2015

My Sunday Photo 6th December 2015


Becky's school hosted a Christmas Fayre yesterday, and we got to take an #ElfieSelfie.

Merry Christmas!


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4 Dec 2015

The 12 Best Christmas Jumpers for Kids

One of the British Christmas traditions - if you can call it that - which I have a little soft spot for is the silly novelty Christmas jumper. Ever since John brought home a bright red and green raindeer jumper from a Christmas shopping spree, much to my amusement, many many years ago, I have kind of developed an affinity with the Christmas jumper. Not necessarily on adults, but on kids I find them adorable.

I’ve been looking at what’s available on the high street in terms of kiddie Christmas jumpers, and I have to say, there are so many cute versions out there, I don’t quite know which ones to pick. Above and below is a little selection of some of the best styles I’ve found. There are, of course, a lot more expensive alternatives around, too, but I for one don’t really want to spend a huge amount of money on something that’s just a bit of seasonal fun.  So without further ado … Ho Ho Ho, here we go:



Girls:
1. Next Snowman £12 // 2. JoJo Maman Bebe Fair Isle £21 // 3. F&F Lightup Raindeer £10 //
4. John Lewis Snowman £16 // 5. George Peppa Pig £8 // 6. BHS Robin £14

Boys:
1. Bluezoo #Elfie £16 // F&F Pattern £10 // 3. John Lewis Bear & Robin £18 //
4. George Penguin £8 // 5. M&S Santa £14 //6. M&S Santa £10

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