Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Twinkle & Cheer

The tree is twinkling in the bay window. Pip assumed his rightful role as chief wingman last weekend and oohed, ahhed and marvelled as we took each decoration from the box. I controlled my urge as creative director not to have a hissy fit when items were placed in clusters.  "Why are all the bells together?" I asked, frowning at the carillon of bells clustered in the centre of the tree. "Because they're a family, Mummy. There's one here that's daddy, that's you *points*, and these two are me and EB. That's why they all have to be next to each other." It was such a sweet sentiment. I didn't have the heart to move them. Damn the aesthetics.

“Be careful with those ones” I said, as he took some vintage baubles out the box. “They’re very old, they belonged to my Grandma.”


He looked so crestfallen I simply could not let him see I was sad or cross. “ It doesn’t matter - the clasps on them were very old anyway, they probably would’ve fallen off even if we’d hung them on.”

“Yes Mummy, you’re right. It just fell off then when it was in my hand..I was hardly touching it."

In a milk tray man like moment, Husband appeared and placed a glass of champagne on the mantelpiece before disappearing.  I raised my glass to the heavens and closed my eyes. Cheers Grandma. 

Pre-children I would spend hours on our Christmas tree. Hours getting the lights right, then placing the baubles; large ones first, followed by medium then small.  Next I'd place the more ornamental pieces; painted blown eggs from Prague, glass candy canes from Sweden, Faberge Egg imitations from...(Pottery Barn if you must know) and of course, Grandma’s decorations. Each was hung with care and precision as it took me on a trip down memory lane. Finally, the tin fairy on top; Husband’s job, and the only part of the tree decorating he was allowed to participate in (apart from the regular refilling of the champagne glass).

My dominance over the Christmas tree decorating proceedings is not surprising. When I was a girl, my father always decorated the tree. It was always put up and decorated on Christmas eve.  We were not allowed to touch it or to help, maybe the odd bauble here or there, but for the most part, it was his creation.  To be fair, it was amazing. His parents had collected many wonderful decorations over the years, some of which, they'd passed to him.  Instead, we would sit in the darkened lounge, watching, three of us in a row, by the flickering light of the fire as he painstakingly took his time placing each and every bauble.  How I longed to get involved, my fingers itched to place decorations on the tree and create something spectacular. Yet it never was. Only when I finally left home and had my own tree, did I get to decorate one myself.

One of the joys of having your own family is that you get to make your own traditions. From the very start, I have tried to involve Pip in the decorating of the tree and he always helps Husband put the fairy on the top.  The final flourish.   At five and a half this year he has reached the sweet spot for Christmas.  His face is flushed with excitement, his eyes shine and he is full of belief. And I adore his total lack of want.  As long as Father Christmas brings a remote control dinosaur and a craft activity he will be happy. Today he is visiting Daddy’s work with homemade gingerbread trees to give to all the other people in the office. He is beside himself with joy.

As I looked at the tree last night, I saw the lights were out of sync, flashing on different settings and some Poundland skeletons left over from Halloween had been placed on the branches. Possibly a year or two ago I would have removed them, preened and rearranged. But I’ve let them stay. I don’t want to be remembered as the mother with an OCD about the Xmas tree. I want Pip to remember decorating the tree with me each year as one of the highlights of Christmas. I want him feel free to add his own embellishments.

From outside the house, I can see the fairy lights winking through the gauze privacy blinds. It looks magical, enticing. I’d like to live in that house I think. And then I remind myself - I do.  Our first Christmas in our ( new) house. I’ll just pinch myself. Getting here has felt like a marathon. This year has been tougher than I could have ever imagined, incredibly busy and frequently stressful. I am limping to the end.  I have managed barely more than a handful of blog posts since midsummer, not through lack of desire to write, but lack of time and energy.  

As I burnt the midnight oil this week finishing my photo calendar for 2015, picking my way through a year full of (often fuzzy) snaps, it struck me just how very much we have done this year - and - how many happy times we have had.  Looking at the boys smiling faces, as they've grown, developed and had fun over the year, really made me reflect - that despite feeling exhausted, I am incredibly lucky.

My hopes for 2015 are simple. To have more energy and more time to spend with my family, my friends and doing the things I love. As I sit here and watch one set of tree lights on disco and one on slow fade, I am determined to make that happen.  As Pip said to me last night at bedtime... “ Next year is a special year for you, Mummy - isn’t it?”

“Why’s that, darling?" 

“Because it’s your big birthday Mummy”  “You’re going to be Thirty -Ten”

Thirty Ten.  I love like the sound of that.  2015 is looking good already.

A very Happy Christmas to my loyal and lovely readers. See you in the New Year.  xxx

Saturday, 6 December 2014


Dear EB,

Last week you were two. Time seems to be flying by so very quickly.  I look back at photographs of you as a baby or at one year old, and it seems much longer ago than it really is. I wish time wasn’t passing quite so quickly, that memories weren’t fading from technicolour to grey amidst the humdrum chaos of everyday life. I want to remember the amazingness of you in every moment,  in glorious detail. 

In the past year your personality has really started to develop.  The cheeky twinkle in your eye shines brighter and your smile is wider.   You are a sweet, engaging boy and you win hearts easily.  For a child so young, you seem remarkably confident and self assured. When you started at nursery, you barely cried. “Bye bye Mummy” you said at the second session, and then marched off to investigate the stickle bricks without so much as a backwards glance.   The staff at the nursery all adore you - I know you are a favourite, with your cheeky smile and the way you wander up with your arms wide open and say; “cuddle” or "friend".  It makes me so happy to see that you are such a confident little boy.

You speak well now and can almost always make yourself understood.  Of late, you are demonstrating more finesse and 'peeassse' and ‘annk ooo' are now voluntarily included in your vocabulary.  Your stock catch phrase is ‘one more’. For everything...'one more' cuddle, kiss, programme on the TV, biscuit, swing...everything is ‘one more’  You love to ask me if I’d like a ‘cup of tea’ and to direct me in the various steps of making it, helping where it is safe to do so. You like me to have the ‘Baa baa sheep’ cup and would prefer it if I took sugar so you could spoon it from the bowl (sorry about that - but at least Daddy obliges on that score.).  

You are extremely ticklish and should you be tickled you will laugh incessantly whilst saying ‘funny mummy’, a phrase which is used remarkably often;  sometimes for things I can understand are funny - and others I don't think are - but nevertheless you find amusing.  You are such a happy chap.  My favourite thing is when you say ‘lucky mummy’;  whether I be eating a biscuit or you are simply giving me one of your wonderful koala cuddles.  When I hear those words, I always think the same thing; how true it is, and how very lucky I am to have you.

Your favourite song is “Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. What a modern child you are. You have made it your own - you request it all the time at home and I love to watch you dance to it.  It fits your personality perfectly - and my whole life I know it will always remind me of you.

You are an agile little chap. Naturally a fast runner and comfortable in the water at swimming.  You seem to pick things up easily. For your birthday we bought you a mini micro scooter and you can’t wait to get going.  I just need to persuade you to wear the helmet first.  And you will wear it... no matter how many times you tell me you won’t. Otherwise you and your ‘scoot scoot’ will be confined to the kitchen forever. 

Your favourite food is pizza from the wood fired oven in the garden. Boy, can you put it away; fellow table guests never fail to be amazed at your pizza eating abilities. You get most excited when it is being prepared and once the pizza board hits the table - you are silent. Pizza eating is serious business as far as you are concerned.

You are a great companion to have around, generally days with you pass quickly and easily. You absolutely love puzzles and will happily spend an hour simply completing puzzle after puzzle. We have more puzzles in our house than we know what to do with - but you never seem to tire of them, whether it’s at 7pm or when you get up at 5.30am.  Many a morning we have sat at the kitchen table and puzzled away while the sun has risen. (Yes, you still get up regularly at 5.30am...please can you stop that?).  You seem remarkably uninterested in TV with the exception of one programme. You love Sofia the First.   You, Pip and I often snuggle up on the sofa after tea and watch the latest episode - Pip pretends he is watching it with you in case you get ‘scared’, not that there is anything to be scared of, and despite his protestations that he doesn’t like princesses, you and I both know he loves them really. I love those moments when the three of us all snuggle up silently in the dim light together.

The bonds of brotherly love between the two of you continue to grow. For the most part, you get on well.  You are more strong willed and head strong than your brother;  when you have your “moments” and I have to be firm with you, Pip relishes in watching you get told off. You are by nature, a good boy though and the word sorry does not have to be wheedled out of you but is offered up readily when you know it’s needed. ‘Lolly Mamma’ you say, usually then offering outstretched arms and the word ‘hug’. You know a hug makes everything alright and I find it almost impossible to be cross with you for more than a few seconds. 

In the past six months we have been attending a messy art club together. Each Friday we make our way to the bottom of an artist’s garden to create clay sculptures or paint a giant witch, spider,castle or boat. You wear a full body suit and wellies - place your hands in the paint trays and prints and paint using just your hands,  a fly swat, a sponge, anything you can see to create a masterpiece.  Occasionally you will chase me round the garden with a menacing grin threatening to put wet paint hand prints on my trousers. I love how much you have enjoyed it, and how you’ve changed from a boy who didn’t like getting his hands mucky at first to one who now revels in it.  This one hour each Friday is one of the highlights of my week.

There is no question that right now, you are a Mummy’s boy.  Maybe that will change in time; perhaps it is because Pip and his father are so close, you gravitate towards me more. Let me tell you a secret... I love it. I love the bond we have.  You are a joy to be around.  Your father jokes that you have me wrapped around your little finger, and if I’m honest with myself, there is more than a grain of truth in that statement. So be it. 

You will be one of the oldest in your year and nearly five when you go to school, I know these pre-school years are going to rattle past quickly, and before I know it, you’ll be standing on the front step for that first day photo and ready to go. But right now, when I feel you growing so quickly, when I lament each passing phase, I console myself with the fact I still have you with me for another three years, and I think the very words you say to me all the time.  Lucky Mummy.  

Happy Birthday, my wonderful, darling boy.  xxx