Friday, 21 December 2012

{this moment}

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember. 

Soulemama isn't actually hosting {this moment} today, like many she's stepping away from the computer for a few days to be 100% with family during this wonderful time. 

I'm also doing the same. There is packing to do, presents to be wrapped and final bits and pieces to prepare before the big day, not to mention cleaning the house and finishing all the washing before we head off to my parents on Sunday {urgh!}. 

Thank you so much to everyone who has followed my journey here over the past few months {almost a year!}. I love receiving and reading each and every one of your comments and thank you sincerely for your support when it was needed, your humour and your touching thoughts.

In the meantime, I'm sure you'll still find me around the traps on twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. And you can bet that I'll be reading your wonderful blogs behind the scenes to see how you're all getting on. 

Wishing you all the happiest of Christmasses, I hope you have a fantastic break and make the most of this lovely time with your loved ones. Wherever you are. 

See you in 2013, if not before. 
Anna x

Christmas traditions {how do you do yours?}

I’ve loved reading about all your Christmas plans and traditions over recent weeks. It’s so interesting how each family has a slightly different variation of the same theme. Where to put stockings, when to open presents, what to leave out for the big man himself?

Much cherished traditions from both mine and Paul’s childhood Christmasses have started to feature regularly as our children grow. I thought I would share some with you today…

Firstly, Christmas Eve. I like to have everything finished by this day. None of the last minute running to the shops that used to happen in my London days. I like Christmas Eve to be a special, family day. An activity, a nice meal, possibly a small present to open, perhaps a viewing of something Christmassey all snuggled up together after bath. This year there are plans. They involve a camper van, a wind-swept beach, hot chocolate and a sausage sizzle all topped off by the Snowman and the Snowdog. Can’t wait.

We’ll leave mince pies, a glass of sherry and carrots for Rudolph. All the usuals. Although Paul is adamant that reindeer eat moss. It was part of his offering when he was little, so our babes will offer it too. Slightly strange, I agree.

I also like the idea of leaving a snowy footprint by the fire this year. Finding fake snow is on my to-do list for the week.

As we tuck Oliver in for the night we’ll tell him to leave his curtain slightly ajar,so Father Christmas knows he is asleep and ready for him to pop down that chimney.

Our stockings are always hung downstairs around the fireplace. I never had a stocking in my room as a child and hate the thought of missing out on seeing Oliver and Lila opening theirs. Yes, this may mean having to be up at the crack of dawn, but so worth it to see their faces light up at that first magical ‘he’sbeen!’ moment.

They will read letters from the big man – such a wonderful memory of mine. Mum used to make us little scrolls from tea-stained, burnt paper, tied up with ribbon and complete with curly writing. I intend to do the same.

We’ll open presents in turn. There was never any manic wrapping paper ripping in our household and I’d like to keep it the same way for us. It really helps you appreciate that Christmas isn’t just about you and your presents, especially when siblings are involved.

Father Christmas gifts in the morning, family presents after lunch. Now this was tough as a child, mostly because once lunch was over we always had to wait until clear-up was 100% complete before moving on to the next round of presents. As I got older though I understood. It makes so much more of the day and makes you appreciate that family give gifts too.

Other than those little family traditions of ours, I’m sure we will be doing the same as every house across the land – eating too much, possibly taking a little walk in the cold, nodding off by the fire. A lazy, happy day.

I can’t wait!

How do you do yours?

*Cute Christmas crafts brought home by my lovely boy on Monday. Such a proud Mama moment. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Cleaning the toilet, otherwise known as ‘me time’

I read a passing tweet* the other day that made me laugh: “when did cleaning the toilet become me time?!”

I laughed because I so know this.

Because, although I have my weekly yoga sessions and book club and a few nights out with the girls now and then, on a daily basis it’s the mundane moments of time to myself 
that really matter. And in reality those moments mostly seem to consist of weeing with the door closed, cooking dinner without children clamouring around my ankles and yes, also cleaning.

There are some days when the thought of kicking Paul and the kids out of the house for a couple of hours so I can clean in total peace and quiet seems so much more appealing than anything else. I mean, the chance to potter round a quiet and clean house. alone? Oh the happy! It’s a sad state of affairs, but oh so true.

In fact, nowadays if I get the chance to do any basic mundane task by myself, in my own time, just the way I like it, it most definitely counts as me time. It’s why I have little daily rituals that ensure I find those all-important five-minute sanity breaks throughout the day. Like having to be the last one out of bed in the morning, even if it’s just for one extra quiet minute by myself {I have Paul to thank for this one}. Or hiding in the kitchen having a sneaky read of a few blog posts on the iPad, all under the pretense of ‘just getting you a snack darling’.

Tea is another - when Lila sleeps and Ollie is happily watching his daily dose of Ceebibs {that’s Cbeebies to you}, I boil the kettle, make a cup of my favourite green tea, fruit tea – in fact any herbal tea – and allow myself to sit somewhere quiet amidst the chaos while I drink it hot. Oh the luxury of not having to microwave my tea three times.

It’s definitely the little pleasures.

And now, in the run up to Christmas I'm finding these moments are few and far between. With Ollie at home for the next three weeks we’ve been extra busy, in a very lovely way - choosing his own presents for his Daddy, baking gingerbread reindeer, making paper snowflakes, watching the Polar Express on DVD. Lots of snuggles and playing ‘the night before Christmas’ {I'm the little boy who's asleep and he's Father Christmas - of course} and walks in the park. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, but we’re all pretty exhausted, so those hot-tea breaks are even more important that ever.

Now, please tell me your me-time moments are just as mundane as mine?!

This post is sponsored by Twinings, all words,opinions and images are my own. Thanks to Twinings my hot-tea breaks are currently spent enjoying green tea with jasmine, Vanilla Chai {amazing!}, white tea and pomegranate and double mint. Go try some immediately…

*Apologies to the tweeter – I have no recollection of who you are, but thank you for making me smile.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Not a moany post

I’m back! How are you all? 

Now as the title suggests, this had the potential to be one helluva moany post. But as the news of the Connecticut tragedy started to filter through, I realised that I shouldn’t really be annoyed that on our first night at Centre Parcs, Ollie badly cut his knee on one of three broken shower tiles which meant absolutely no swimming and trying to keep his activity to a minimum to give it chance to heal {yes, really}. Because at the end of the day, having to deal with three screaming trips to the medical centre with him and then sitting up with Lila for three nights on the trot as she battled yet another fever makes me so, so much luckier than those poor families having to face saying their last goodbyes. My heart goes out to them all.

And as for Centre Parcs? The jury is still out I’m afraid. The frosty forest, the villa we had with the hot tub to beat all hot tubs and celebrating my Dad’s 60th were all fabulous. But the whole knee debacle did dampen our spirits somewhat and we didn't really have the chance to experience exactly what the place is all about. Onwards and upwards though. And now Christmas is just around the corner.

Can you believe it? One week people. Crazy.

I’m feeling mostly organised and kind of not. I still have shopping to do and wrapping to start. Ollie had his last day at pre-school yesterday and came home with all manner of lovely Christmas crafts, which may well feature here later this week.

Until then, how is everyone? I hope your Christmas preparations are filled with mince pies and cheesy festive tunes.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Weekend Edition

Schizophrenic is the word I would use to best describe this weekend. There have been big highs - a wintery, very festive day in London and a spot of solo Christmas shopping. And bad lows - a poorly poppet, a spectacular pre-bed projectile vom and a, ahem, code brown in the bath tonight. Yes, that is what you’re thinking. And yes, that is too much information. Sorry.

Back to the highs. London couldn’t have been more perfect on Saturday. Bright blue skies, lots of sunshine and so much Christmas everywhere you looked. We ate a lovely lunch, drank mulled wine, pottered around the Southbank Christmas market, listened to carol singers and enjoyed a ride on a traditional carousel. It was busy, but manageable, and lovely as always to spend easy time with family.

On Sunday we stayed close to home, moved slowly and didn’t get out of our PJs until the afternoon. I shopped like a woman on a mission while the babes slept off their coughs, which is just so refreshing when you don't have to manoeuvre a pram around a gazillion Christmas shoppers and deal with multiple requests for snacks and drinks. We rounded off the weekend with a family viewing of the Snowman. Which then led to half an hour of sobbing from Oliver who ‘reeeaallly didn’t want the snoooowmaaaan to melllllllllt. I just donnnn’t love it when he melllllllts.’ And then there was the code brown. And then the children woke each other up in turn for about an hour.

Which really sums up our weekend. Schizophrenic.

How was yours? 
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