Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Our first family Christmas as a foursome

Little Mister Christmas collageI know the big event was more than two three weeks ago now but I’m playing major blog catch-up at the moment and this is one post I don’t want to miss as there were so many memories and firsts I need to capture for posterity. And anyway, it’s taken Little Miss almost this long to grasp the concept that Christmas, and the presents, and the seemingly endless supply of chocolate, really is now finished!

In fact, only the other morning we woke to the sound of her singing Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer in her bed and heard her telling her dolly that Father Christmas had been and was with his reindeer on the roof! So cute and Daddy has recorded it on his phone so we can bring it out on her 18th!

Christmas 2014 was our first as a family of four and the first that Little Miss, our eldest, had much more of an idea of what was going on. It was lovely to see her excitement and wonder at all the special things that were happening. That said, her understanding was very much still that of a toddler – I lost count of the number of times we had to explain that you can only open one door each day on the advent calendar!

Visiting SantaHighlights included visiting Father Christmas at the National Trusts’s Uppark House and Garden. OK, so the timing wasn’t perfect for her baby brother, who was rather angry about being made to wait for milk while we queued to go in to see an old man with a big white beard. But Little Miss was so good and quietly told Santa that she wanted a ‘dolly with hair’ for Christmas! And she loved her little grotto gift, a handsome, cuddly red squirrel who she named Cyril and who was given the honour of a spot in her already somewhat overcrowded bed.

That same evening our local rotary club was doing its annual Christmas collection and drove down our road with Santa on the back of a float. Little Miss was so excited, her face was a picture, and we really started to feel the magic of celebrating Christmas with our two little people.

Christmas week was packed with family, fun and festiveness. First up was the traditional annual gathering with my husband’s relatives. This year’s event saw ten small children, his brothers and their wives, two aunties and uncles and a handful of cousins involved. And, of course, Granny and Grandad. The ever expanding number of little ones meant it was easier to hire out a local hall than cram into one of our houses. It was lovely to see Little Miss and all her cousins running around so happily.

Next up was Little Miss’s nursery concert, our first experience of seeing one of our offspring perform. The show took place in a proper little auditorium with tiered seating – a good thing given all the parents jostling to get the best view of their little darlings! Thankfully Mummy didn’t sob in the audience but we were very proud of how well she did, given she is not yet three years old and could have been totally forgiven for being struck by stage fright!

Little Miss’s group were the youngest children in the show and they all dressed as stars to sing her favourite, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The other groups included snowmen (apparently dominated by the most manic children, running amok across the stage!), reindeer and elves. All very cute. Her outfit was a bit of a glittery mish mash. To be honest, Mummy could have done better but I ran out of time. And, in my defence, the dress code was simply to wear something sparkly and perhaps a bit of tinsel. So that’s what we did.

The concert was followed by another family tradition, our church’s candlelit crib service. We’ve been taking Little Miss to this every year since she was born. It’s hugely popular locally, full of youngsters and all the favourite carols, and every year the clergy do a fabulous job of telling the Christmas story in ever more inventive, child-friendly ways. This year was the most ambitious we’ve seen yet with, I kid you not, a remote-controlled Angry Bird flying above the congregation!
Christmas collage

Christmas Eve was heralded by the appearance of Little Mister’s first tooth (sob, he’s getting so big now!). Daddy also made mince pies with the assistance of a little helper and we finally got around to creating our Portable North Pole video. I was really impressed and Little Miss was transfixed when she watched it, especially when it showed our house and her baby brother. My highly emotional state lately (making it even more amazing I didn’t cry at the nursery gig!) meant this brought tears to my eyes. Thanks to fellow blogger What the Redhead Said for the handy review and discount code.

We continued the magic by, for the first year, putting out a mince pie, drink of milk and carrot for Santa and his reindeer (Daddy later took great pride in creating ‘authentic’ reindeer teeth marks on the carrot!). Then just before bed we hung up hers and her baby brother’s stockings and put up the little personalised ‘Santa stop here’ signs my mum had bought for each of them. We then read the classic The Night Before Christmas, a book I myself loved as a child.

On Christmas morning Little Miss ran out of bed, thudding across her floorboards to see if Father Christmas had filled her stocking. On discovering he had, she quickly tore open the first few presents. Little Mister seemed equally pleased with his little haul! Little Miss Christmas Collage We then all enjoyed a Christmas breakfast treat of pain au chocolat – for a child who rarely has chocolate (nasty strict parents!), for Little Miss this must have been epic! Then later that morning my parents arrived for the day.

Little Miss loved all the presents, which kid wouldn’t?! She became very good, perhaps a bit too good at unwrapping them, regardless of whose name was on the tag! Her baby brother in particular was given rather a lot of assistance at times. He too was very keen but primarily for the paper and putting them in his mouth. We could have wrapped up the contents of our recycling bin for him and he’d have been happy!

Christmas lunch marked the first occasion Little Mister sat in the highchair (hastily retrieved from the garage!) so he could join us all at the table. Once safely installed, he tried to eat his cracker. Mummy had a bit of a panic about the glitter round his mouth. Christmas shirt

What more can I say about Christmas Day? Simply that it was filled with fun, food, presents and love. And, I mustn’t forget, how handsome our little man looked rocking his first ever party shirt! I know I’m biased but doesn’t he look gorgeous? It even had a cute little bow tie too but he generally preferred the casual approach!

The days after Christmas were filled with lots more of the above and lots of visiting family and friends, some more overdue than others. And any downtime was spent checking out all the new toys – something we all enjoyed, not just their little owners! I’m especially partial to a bit of Duplo architecture! And, in case you were wondering, Father Christmas did deliver ‘Dolly with hair’!

On New Year’s Day, our lovely Little Mister turned six months old. Six months already! (more sobs!). And a few days before this yet another major milestone was reached when he had his first taste of solid food.

Weaning commencesIt’s safe to say that he hasn’t looked back since! As we’d both predicted, our little-big boy loves his food. Weaning has now well and truly commenced and there’s been very little spitting out the mush for this one! His newborn days are becoming happy but increasingly distant memories. He now spends much of his time down on the floor, desperately trying to get his hands on whatever he can. He’s an accomplished roller and I don’t think it’s going to be too long before he sets off to explore properly on all fours. Then the fun/terror really begins!

I hope everybody else had a lovely (belated) Christmas and my very best wishes for 2015.

Super Busy Mum

Categories: Festive fun, Mummy memories | Tags: | 2 Comments

Back to the blog and Christmas memories

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So I’ve had a bit of an unintended break from blogging in recent weeks. In my last post but one I was counting down to Christmas, looking forward to all the festive fun ahead. Well we’ve had plenty of that and life was generally incredibly busy – hence the lack of writing action – and now we’re looking ahead again to an exciting new year.

But before I commit a few resolutions to this page, some quick reflections on the last few weeks…

Climbing the mountains of toddlerdom

Little Miss is coming on in leaps and bounds and seems more a little girl by the day. Her proudest recent achievement has been perfecting the art of climbing up onto the sofa. She is quite petite so this is one obstacle that’s eluded her for a long time and she is so pleased with herself. So while her new-found skill does bring with it some extra issues for us (she can now reach the landline phone and the light dimmer switch, not to mention the perils of falling off as she discovered this morning!), we can’t help but share in her excitement at discovering she can do something new.

Sticking with climbing, Little Miss Initiative has also realised she can get up onto our bed by pulling out a storage box and using it as a step. Again, despite needing eyes in the back of my head, I can’t help but feel proud at how she worked this out all by herself.

Her speech has also come on a lot. New words are learnt every day and she’s now quite the mimic. She’s also increasingly stringing words together. We woke up on Christmas Eve morning, after the big storm, to hear her rather appropriately singing ‘row, row, row your boat’ in her cot!

Opening ‘winows’

Little Miss quickly got the hang of her Advent calendar and every morning at breakfast asked to open a ‘winow’ and see a new picture. It was so cute and I miss it now!

Lights!

The decorations were a big hit from the start and I always think the lights drag the house out of the wintery gloom when it’s so dark outside. I don’t really want to take them down! Little Miss heralded the daily switch-on with excited squeals of ‘lights, lights’! She was also pretty good with the tree and while baubles were occasionally removed nothing was actually broken.

Christmas gifts from nursery

We had the joy of receiving our first toddler-made Christmas card and a calendar from nursery, complete with some lovely photos of Little Miss enjoying making them and generally playing. It was lovely to see her looking so happy in the pictures and great to see that she has a good time when she’s there.

Visiting Santa and lots of lovely presents

We weren’t sure what Little Miss would make of Father Christmas but we took a punt and visited him anyway at our local Hillier’s Garden Centre. As it turned out she was fine, thanks to the skill and patience of this particular Santa. We all sat in his little wooden Christmas Chalet – me, the husband, nanny and granddad – and he took time to talk to her and read a story. It was lovely and Little Miss was quietly inquisitive but certainly not spooked as we’d feared she might be. It was a magical moment and one I know her grandparents were thrilled to share. And she loves the little cuddly puppy toy she received as her gift.

And the presents continued… she quickly got the hang of tearing off paper on Christmas Day and was especially thrilled with her main presents – a play kitchen, a little table and chairs set and a new ‘baby’ (doll). She had some lovely gifts. And it’s great being a parent as you can be a big kid all over again and play with all the new toys!

Watching The Snowman

This was as much for me to relive my childhood as it was about introducing it to Little Miss. It’s been years since I watched it and I’m sure I didn’t used to find it quite as emotional as I did this year – maybe that’s the mothering hormones kicking in again! Also enjoyed watching The Snowman and the Snow Dog for the first time, but I’m a child of the ‘80s and my loyalties lay firmly with the original and that epic soundtrack *lump returns to throat*.

Food glorious food

In terms of turkey, Little Miss seemed to favour it being smothered in cranberry sauce before it passed her little lips but she absolutely adored the mince pies and Christmas pudding! One of my favourite festive photos is of her happily tucking into her bowl of pudding and custard.

And finally a book recommendation

We love books and our all-round family favourite for the festive season was the highly amusing I’m Not Santa, featuring Baby Owl. This is one the adults enjoyed just as much as Little Miss. You can read a bigger review here.

So that was Christmas for us. Next post will be those resolutions!

Photo credit: luigi diamanti/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Categories: Festive fun, Motherhood, Toddlerdom | Tags: | Leave a comment

Countdown to Christmas

imageIt’s getting closer and this year I’m feeling far more excited than usual! I’ve always steadfastly avoided embracing the festive spirit too early. It seems slightly crazy that supermarkets start selling the Christmas chocs when we’re still trying to enjoy the final dregs of British summertime. OK, I will confess that I bought a present back in September but that was purely a budgetary decision – it was a big item and on a really good deal. Otherwise I don’t usually think too much about Christmas until at least late November.

This year, though, my festive spirit has been starting to waken much earlier than usual. Our daughter is now almost 20 months old so, although this will technically be her second Christmas, she will be much more aware this year and I’m really looking forward to sharing some magical moments with her.

Once December 1st hits, I want to make sure she has as much fun as possible and enjoys this special time of year. Here are some of the things I’m looking forward to.

Starting her advent calendar/book

I bought it this week, as you can see from the picture above. We wanted to get something quite traditional, rather than chocolate-based, and this has loads for  her to look at. The book opens out into a big, free-standing nativity scene cartoon. The  windows to open are all sorts of shapes and sizes and  the nativity story is told on the back of the book flaps to help children understand the importance of the festive season. It also comes with a colouring sheet. We bought ours locally but you can also buy them on Amazon.

Putting her nativity set out

Little Miss was Christened on December 2nd last year (another reason the beginning of December will feel even more special) and we bought her a lovely little nativity set as a present. It has a few small bits in so is still more of an ornament than something to play with but having it out again will bring back happy memories of sharing her special day with family and friends.

wpid-20131123_114816Decorating the house

This one is also making us slightly nervous! I love getting the decorations out and buying a new tree. Little Miss will be absolutely fascinated by all the lights, tinsel and sparkly baubles  and I’m sure she’ll want to join in with making the house look festive. Our challenge will be to find a way to make it toddler-proof at the same time! This week Daddy came home with this stylish but sturdy wooden owl from Sainsbury’s – a real hit as Little Miss loves owls!

Twinkling lights on nearby houses

We’re lucky to live in an area where a lot of people make a big effort with their outdoor decorations. We don’t as it must cost a small fortune. But we love driving home when it’s dark and looking at everybody else’s lights, especially those on the biggest houses. I’m sure Little Miss will love coming home from nursery past the lights.

imageReading festive stories

It will be great to read some Christmassy books together. We’ve already got In The Night Garden: Everybody Loves Christmas, which Nanny bought, and the more traditional It Was the Night Before Christmas, which I adored as a child (I can still remember most of the lines!). I’ve also spotted a well-stocked special Christmas section in our local library with plenty of toddler-friendly titles so we’ll have lots to keep us busy.

Seeing Santa and his reindeer

I’m looking forward to taking Little Miss to a Christmas event at one of our favourite local garden centre haunts. I’m very aware things could go either way in terms of her meeting Santa as she tends to be very wary of strangers at the moment, but we’ll give it a go. And given her love of animals, I’m hoping the real reindeer will at least go down well.

Next setFestive fashion

I always said I wouldn’t get sucked into it but I find it hard to resist some of the cute Christmas clothes for small people. I won’t buy much as, let’s face it, they can only wear it for a very limited time but I figure if I get a few bits early on then we can get more use out of them at all the festive gatherings in December. I like to keep it a little bit subtle so I love this top and tights set from Next.

Christmas music

Little Miss loves her music and now requests we put the stereo on for her, so I’m looking forward to getting the Christmas CDs out and having a sing and a dance. I may even buy a new one so we have some toddler-friendly tunes to enjoy.

Opening presents

Of course I’m looking forward to this. We’ve bought Little Miss some things we’re sure she’ll love. Her main gift is a play kitchen (shush, don’t tell!) and we know Granny is getting her a new doll. We’re always told she loves playing with the dolls, or ‘babies’ as she calls them, at nursery. She has one doll at home too but it is quite small for her now so I’m sure she’ll be thrilled with one that’s more her size now and I’m looking forward to her pretending to cook us dinner!

What are you looking forward to most about the Christmas season?

Categories: Festive fun | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Digging the garden centre

A few short years ago visiting a garden centre would have been way down our list of fun places to hang out. For a start, we lived in a second floor flat back then. But lack of green space aside, our view, in the not-so-distant past, was that garden centres were places for folk who are (ahem) much older than us! The main exception to the rule being the annual festive foray to buy a Christmas tree.

20130803_155529 (480x640)Fast forward to life with a curious toddler and suddenly we’re seeing our local garden centres in a whole new light. Plus, I do think many of them have started to branch out (excuse the pun) and become far more family-friendly than I ever remember them being when I was a kid.

Suddenly, visiting a garden centre has become a fairly fool-proof, cheap and cheerful way to spend a few hours keeping Little Miss entertained. There’s loads for her to look at, favourites being ornamental animals of all shapes and sizes that she can pat and proudly say the names of. And, if she’s lucky, maybe some real ones to see in the pets and aquarium sections.

Even better, some of the best garden centres near us now have great soft play areas we can visit in return for a small donation to charity. In wet weather this can be a lifesaver! And to keep us parents happy, there’s the lure of a nice cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake.

20131025_114925_resized_1It does also seem that garden centres are no longer just about selling plants. Most now have various areas of gifts, toys, books, clothes and often a farm-style shop of tasty treats to tempt us. And now Christmas is coming they are getting even more interesting, with some lovely winter wonderland themed displays and activities. The one we went to this week had so many fairy lights twinkling it was like a free baby sensory experience! It also had an ‘alternative’ nativity scene set up, with moving life-size animals (see picture, which doesn’t quite do it justice!). I say ‘alternative’ because as well as your standard Christmas story stable creatures it also featured penguins and a lion, which I’m pretty sure were not part of the traditional  line-up. But either way, Little Miss loved it.

Our favourite local garden centres include Old Barn Nursery & Garden Centre at Dial Post on the A24, Sussex, home to the scene above, and Hillier Garden Centre on the  A281 Brighton Road just outside of Horsham, home to the ornamental rabbits and guinea pigs in the first picture . Both are part of bigger chains with outlets in other parts of the UK too.

So, it seems we are officially garden centre converts. Strange how parenthood changes your perspective on so many things!

(NB: These views are my own, I’ve not been paid/bribed/asked by the garden centres mentioned to post this)

Categories: Out and about | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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