It’s Christmas!

Standard

I’ve been tagged!!!

I’ve been nominated by Baby Steps to share my experience of Christmas and help you all get in a nauseatingly festive mood. Despite only just rekindling my love affair with all things festive, this is my very first time being tagged and therefore I can’t resist giving it a go. I can’t promise you’ll read this and feel all warm and glowy inside – I’ve scanned the questions and am already dreading having to reveal my inner Grinch.But Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of moan so let me do yours for you, sit back, and let’s dish the dirt on Christmas!

What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?

I used to be incredibly indifferent to Christmas. From about the age of 18, I’ve lived alone and all the trekking to see relatives, the expense, the buying presents etc used to overwhelm me. It was always nice seeing everyone but it seemed like a whole lot of fuss for just one day.

Now my attitude is unrecognisable. With Dexter here, I’m hugely excited for him. The tree is up, the presents are in the process of being wrapped, the plans to see the wider family are coming together. Dexter is far too young to appreciate my efforts but this year is a practice round for those to come. I’ll be mentally preparing a list of things we need for next year to make it extra special when he’s finally able to join in.

If I was pushed to say the thing that makes Christmas special for me – it would have to be champagne at lunchtime. The aim is to get suitably drunk by dinner so the crappy tv schedule doesn’t make you suicidal.

ChampagneChristmasWhat is your favourite make-up look for the festive season?

Same as always. I always have red nails, nude lips bronzed cheekbones and smokey eyes. I have quite a distinctive face and if I wear anything more than this, I tend to look like a drag queen which isn’t a good look at all. In fact watching my face deteriorate throughout the day is a pretty common theme at Christmas. When I drink red wine my cheeks redden and my lips stain – it’s a sure-fire way to tell where Gemma sits on the drunk-o-meter as I’m usually pretty self-conscious about how I look.

Real or Fake trees?

REAL!!!! I can’t stand fake trees. When I was a little girl, we used to get our trees from the same gypsy encampment every year. Knowing what I do know about gypsy’s I can understand why my dad used to restrict the amount of cash he bought with him. This was the closest pop-up store in a field near to our house and it used to be a fairly big deal picking the right tree. At aged 16 when I was told we were having a fake tree for the first year ever – I remember getting in a mighty strop about it.

Sure the needles fall off and you sometimes prick yourself when decorating it – but I love the imperfectness of a real tree, and the smell is gorgeous. Fake trees are always too green, and no amount of tinsel can cover the plasticky middle section.

Giving or receiving presents?

If I say receiving I’ll look like a right selfish bint so giving it is! No in all seriousness I do like buying presents for some people.There’s nothing better than that feeling when you know you’ve got it right. You’ve found something unique and cool that the receiver will use all year round and tell their mates about.

For some reason I really feel the pressure when buying for my other half though. He’ll never say what he wants so it’s always a guessing game and I know my choices are sometimes disappointing. I seem to fall into the trap of spending more and hoping he’s impressed by the price tags. Worst present has to be Apple TV that I bought him last year – we’ve used it once.

Do you open your presents in the morning or evening?

Always the morning. This year though Dexter has lots of little pressies so we’ll probably stagger it so he gets a whole days worth of surprises.

What’s your favourite Christmas film?

I hate them all!!! Tee hee – that’s not strictly true. I’m not a huge film fan and find heartwarming films a little cutesy for my liking. I definitely prefer films for grown ups so my favourites would Die Hard or Edward Scissorhands. Something that doesn’t overdo it on the Christmas Trees and Carol Singing.

edward_scissorhands15

Before you all shake your head in sympathy and pray for me – I’m sure with Dexter here I’ll have to get used to cartoons and U rated movies in the near future. Maybe my son’s face during Toy Story will restore my faith in Disney. Until then, I’m banning terrestrial tv on Christmas Day. Daddy and I will watch a box set of Batman or something equally dark and action packed.

What is your favourite Christmas food?

Has to be cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon, and all the little finger food bits and pieces. Anything my Craig cooks is delicious but let’s face it – you wouldn’t cook Turkey at any other time than Christmas Day – you’d opt for chicken which is far tastier.

Reading this back I’m still a weeney bit Bah Humbug aren’t I? Oh dear – well with each day that passes I’m sure I’ll get into the spirit a little more.

I’m tagging three of my favourite blogger’s to (hopefully) spread a little more joy xx

Mummy Bird

Attachment Mummy

Mum’s the Word

Getting Down n Dirty on Daddy’s Birthday

Standard

Sunday was Daddy’s birthday – 42 no less!

The whole weekend was dedicated to this and included a romantic meal for two at Bella Italia, the casino, and a nice family meal a Nanny’s house.

We decided to get crafty for daddy’s birthday and Dexter and I made this on Saturday night. We dipped his little hands in water-based paints and Dexter was able to sign Daddy’s card himself.  Dexter giggled when his little cards went in the goo and seemed fascinated by the prints left on the card. The paint washed off his hands easily enough but I was still picking out remnants from his hair two days later.

018

I think this will become a little tradition now. Both Craig and I have birthdays very close to Christmas so the whole season is really expensive. Craig’s reaction to something so simple made me think that we should just ‘make’ our birthday gifts from Dex; they cost next to nothing and hold far more sentimental value than anything we would ordinarily buy eachother.

This year I was even lucky enough to get some Ring Cufflinks from the delightful and beautiful Vikki over at Love From Mummy – these are really special little keepsakes that are perfect for Daddy’s and Grandad’s. Craig doesn’t wear suits or shirts very often but does dress up for horse racing days and weddings. Now he’ll be able to take a little bit of Dexter with him when he goes which is seriously cool.

026

023

Craig did get other gifts from me, but I think Dexter’s gifts are his favourite. We topped the Sunday off with a film and an ‘early night’… just goes to show thar the best things in life are free.

O Christmas Tree! Special thanks to Cambium

Standard

021

Last year was a comedy of errors as far as the Christmas Tree goes. We had just moved house, I was heavily pregnant, and we left it far too late to buy a tree. We debated not getting one and tried to tell ourselves we didn’t need one, but seeing the hundreds of pretty trees posted on Facebook, I eventually snapped and barked at Craig that we had to have one.

So two weeks before Christmas Craig virtually had to perform an Indiana-Jones-style-roll through the doors at Homebase before they shut for evening. Rushing through to the plant section he had to literally wade through scores of broken and deformed trees to find one large enough for our lounge. I remember that tree very well as it ended up living in our bath for two days. It had an abnormally large base and didn’t fit in our planter. We had tried laying in down in our kitchen and hacking at it with a carving knife (in hindsight – the most inappropriate tool ever) to try to slice off some of the excess – but it’ll come as no surprise this didn’t work.

In desperation we posted on Twitter and Facebook appealing for someone to help us track down a planter big enough to hold up our tree. As the only response we got was from Cumbria, we ended up waiting for an auction to end on eBay for a resizable one in London (50 miles away). Craig then had to take time off work to go and pick up the bloody thing. With a tree languishing in our bath, it literally couldn’t come soon enough – it had begun to show signs of mould and had developed a kind of curvature of the spine resulting in a very prominent bend in the trunk.

When we finally got the tree up, the wonky bit threatened to tip it up at any moment. We ended up propping it up against the wall and giving it a wide berth for the 3 weeks it was up.  With the lights costing us £80 (as everywhere had run out of the cheap ones) that tree was nightmare from start to finish!

So this year, when an old friend messaged me on Facebook with an offer of a tree delivered to our door, we bit his hand off. The offer was from Stuart from Cambium – a specialist corporate plant supplier that I have worked with before in a professional capacity. I’ve actually been an office manager for several London-based firms, and always took Cambium with me from job to job. They’ve supplied me with perfectly manicured indoor trees and ornate flowers that always got wonderful comments from colleagues and office visitors. Cambium were always such an absolute pleasure to work with and the plants always looked fabulous (despite my considerable knack for killing plants just by admiring them).

As a special thank you for inviting them to tender for a few big contracts, Stuart has given us the most beautiful tree for our home. It has to go down as the best tree we’ve ever had – fantastically bushy and smells divine. It’s certainly made up for all the stress of last year and we’re so grateful.

We had lots of fun decorating it and I only hope we’ve done it justice – what do you think? I’m not sure we’ll be winning any prizes soon…

Mummy the Surgeon

Standard

We had a horrible time last night. Dexter’s best friend had a nasty accident and sustained a deep and potentially life threatening gash to his leg. It was absolutely heartbreaking and I’m still feeling shaken by the incident.

There wasn’t anyone else to blame for the incident other than ourselves. Charlie lives with us and is our responsibility. He and Dex are truly inseparable and Charlie comes everywhere with us. Both boys came around Nanny’s house with us yesterday and unfortunately we forgot to strap Charlie in his car seat when we drove the short journey home. When we got home we found Charlie on the floor by the back seat in a mangled heap. Craig quickly carried him the house and we noticed he’d cut himself really badly.

Charlie wasn’t breathing and we knew we didn’t have time to get him the hospital. His eyes were vacant and it was clear he had slipped into a coma. Dexter was very upset and kept trying to kiss and cuddle his little buddy better. It was obvious I’d have to save Charlie myself as there was no way we give up on him.

Through tear-soaked eyes I set to work on Charlie on our kitchen floor. Craig took Dexter aside and explained that Mummy was doing her best and he had to be a brave boy. We popped Dexter in his cot and told him that Charlie would join him later and be with him when he woke up in the morning. The pressure was certainly on to save Charlie and reunite the boys as soon as possible.

Two hours later, I emerged from the kitchen to find Craig sitting stone-faced on the sofa. He looked into my eyes to search for a sign of how things had went. I gave him a little relieved smile and he leapt to his feet and sprinted to the kitchen to see Charlie. Just a few minutes later we tucked Charlie in bed with Dexter so they could both sleep off the ordeal.

Charlie will never be the same. He now has a twisted black scar on his leg and is sporting a bandage whilst he recuperates. He’s being very brave but has had a few diva moments. This morning he insisted on trying some of Dexter’s breakfast and made a right mess of himself. All in all though – we’re so glad he’s okay and both boys are (mostly) all smiles this morning.

029

Scrap Parent and Child Parking

Standard

Before Dexter came into our lives, we were pretty ambivalent about parent and child parking. It seemed like a ploy by supermarkets to engender loyalty from high-spending parents. Parents with small people could park closer to the door, and get an extra wide spot – it was almost like getting a flight upgrade to Business Class. Even the disabled spots weren’t as glamorous!

They seemed unnecessary but a little bit cool – like the Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s of this world were so desperate to win the family vote, they were prepared to blatantly prioritise the needs of family shoppers. I remember thinking, If parents are getting such star treatment in the car park, maybe they would be other perks inside! Maybe parents got extra Clubcard points, more money off vouchers, or maybe special ‘check-out’ passes to avoid the queues. It was a nice thought when I was hauling my pregnant belly around Tesco earlier this year.

3516788332_12bf200ef7_z

When we got pregnant, Craig and I used to joke that this Holy Grail of supermarket parking was imminent – we’d soon be able to park up, spend ‘far too long’ getting our baby out of the car (just to gloat in front of the non-parents), and then casually stroll the 10m to the front door. It would finally be our turn to join the ‘club’ and enjoy these new privileges.

The problem is, we’ve only managed to park in these exclusive spaces a handful of times. Dexter is now 28 weeks, we shop every week at Tesco, and I’d estimate we’ve only managed to snag one of these spots 10 times. The problem isn’t that there are too few spaces, the problem is that these spaces are so often occupied by those who don’t fit the brief. Some of this is pure ignorance, some of it is nothing short of good old Machiavellianism, either way – all culprits will fit into one of these 4 categories

  1. The Pretender’s – these are parents who may well have a child that qualifies for the spot. They have all the paraphernalia (car seat, window blinds, baby-on-board stickers) yet the child hasn’t made the trip. The child is safely at home watching CBeebies, at the swimming pool or doing arts and crafts with parent 1 whilst parent 2 gets the weekly shop done.
  2. The Hanger On’s – this strange breed of parent still see their aged 13+ children as their babies. These are the parents who refuse to remove the Winnie the Pooh stickers from their teenagers room. They’ll still use the phrase ‘she’s gone to play at a friend’s house’ – in complete denial of the fact their little princess is escaping mum and dad to try on make-up and post provocative pictures of herself to Facebook. Their flat-out refusal to do away with the booster seat from their car, means that they operate under the misguided assumption they ‘need’ a parent and child parking space. They’re easy to spot as they have people carriers despite only having  2 or fewer children.
  3. The Activists – They are the Equality Champions. They will donate to the RSPCA and have those awful little signs in their toilets saying “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; If it’s brown flush it down”. I still have a teeny bit of respect for these fellow ranter’s as at least they aren’t duplicitous – they’ll have an indignant air about them and are utterly shameless about their actions. They’ll have a pre-prepared script if they’re challenged and will surprise you with some fairly valid points – they’re best avoided at all costs as arguing with them will be noisy and time-consuming.
  4. The Chancer’s – these idiots need no introduction. They are the prats that we all love to hate. They’re only ever ‘popping in’ to get some cigarettes or a sandwich deal, and avoid eye contact with everyone as they know they’re in the wrong. Annoyingly it’s a type of ignorance that can pervade any age, class or sex so it’s a widespread problem that supermarkets and parents are powerless to contest. They’re the type of people who shuffle and bolster their newspaper on the tube in an attempt to fend off pregnant or disabled people who may (or may not be) petitioning for their seat. They are wholly incapable of empathy for others.

All of the above get on my wick. They’re all equally to blame for denying me my space. It makes me mad to see fellow parents resort to acrobatics in a bid to extract their child from their cars without scratching the door of the neighbouring car. The truth is that getting your child ‘out’ of the car is only half the story. When you’ve finished your shopping you can guarantee that the car next to you has been replaced with a bigger, even more intimately parked motor.

The supermarkets refuse to challenge their customers so are equally to blame in my opinion. They’re so concerned about profits they’d be delighted to see people stampede over one another to do their weekly shop in their store. It’s left to parents themselves to try to defend these parking spaces from illegitimate advances. Yes, with our young impressionable children in the backseat we’re supposed to have a swear-free and polite exchange with these contemptible idiots. For those of us brave enough to have a go, we try to frame our arguments as follows even though we are seething with rage:

“Hi there. Sorry, I couldn’t help but notice you don’t have a little one with you. These spaces are wider you see. They’re meant for getting car seats / lifting kiddies out of the car. Would you mind if we parked there instead as we have our son with us”

In reality – we turn into childish morons shouting out the car window – “WHERE’S YOUR KID THEN?” – then duck down and quickly park our shit-heap a mile from the door to avoid any repercussions.

To my mind it would be better all round if these spaces had never come into being! The struggle of parents to free their child from his / her car seat would just be another weekly challenge. It’s almost as though the supermarkets have done a ‘half job'; given parents a solution then failed to ensure its availability. I’d rather see them gone altogether than watch another Chancer nick my spot and send me into a murderous rage right before the chaos that is Christmas shopping.Yes, parent and child parking has turned us parents into feuding, angry and stressed shoppers. Get rid of them and restore a bit of harmony to our car parks please.