27 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 27th Dec - Thank You!

Wherever possible we will always try to be with the person who is giving the present when we open the present. This means that our present time is spread over nearly 3 weeks to fit everyone in.

I think at such a young age it helps Pickle to understand how to receive a gift and say thank you to that person if the person is actually there, and in our family we encourage kisses and cuddles to accompany our thanks. It might take a while for them to understand, but even my 4yr old nephew knows to give Auntie Pooh a kiss and cuddle for his awesome present, although now it might only last 2/seconds.

But it is not always possible to open presents when people are there and so we will send out a few thank you cards to those who we missed seeing. It is easy to stop at just those who expect them but everyone appreciates them, even more so when they are unexpected. So when we get home we will be cracking out the art supplies and getting messy and thankful.

JYC 2014 - 26th Dec - Boxing Day

Boxing day is a day for seeing Pickle's Great Nans. But this year was a little different.

We still managed to get to see my OH's Nan at her house but it was only a flying visit and we only had a quick Skype with Nannie to unwrap presents and tell her what we had from Santa.

But we had to go and see my Nan in the hospital again (once again with Pickle being very well behaved.) which was a very odd and hopefully unrepeatable experience. But having her around, being happy and cheerful, helped remind me that it is family and togetherness that is most important at Christmas time.

JYC 2014 - 25th Dec - Christmas Day

Favourite Christmas day memories

* Quiet start to the morning to open and build our new Duplo model

* lovely Christmas dinner, cooked perfectly by Grandad and enjoyed as a family of 8

* Opening our presents and getting a gasp of excitement when Pickle opened up her treehouse.

* Having a sneaky nap in the afternoon

* visiting our Aunties and Uncles in the evening and having fun with Megan and Rosie

JYC 2014 - 24th Dec - Christmas Eve

A new spin on an old tradition this year. We have been visiting my Dad on Christmas Eve for a few years but this year my brothers wife and daughter were also there for the first time. So Pickle had her cousin to play with as well as the dogs.

For what is normally a more grown up evening, it was fun to have a more child-like feeling running through it as well.

Even if both of them were permanently attached to electronic devices. The perfect mix of new and old....

JYC 2914 - 23rd Dec - Christmas Stockings

Pickle has a Christmas stocking that I finally sewed and quilted back in December. It was big enough to hold a fair amount of presents, though not the large box of Duplo that we were going to purchase. Instead Nannie P had it to fill with little presents. It may become more of a symbolic gesture than a useable piece of present storage.

Nanny and Grandad Bear have a large colour co-ordinated pile of presents ready for Christmas morning. And a couple of large boxes....

22 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 22nd Dec - Favourite December Moments

* Pickle sharing her advent chocolate with her Nanny

* having lots of hot chocolates together

* snuggly cuddles on the sofa watching films and Christmas TV

* making Christmas decorations together

* Christmas baking

* learning all about Christmas and Santa Claus

21 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 21st Dec - Christmas right now.

Well it's not quite what we were expecting. I'm writing this post from my mum's house where Pickle and I have arrived a few days in advance of my OH to see my Nan, who is very ill in hospital.

We came down this morning and went to see her this afternoon where Pickle was about as well behaved as I could have hoped for, and we may be asking Santa for an extra present.

The next few days will not be as planned or may not even be planned in any way, and it is very difficult to keep the level of festive spirit. But by having this holiday focused on Pickle helps to bring the joy back and she is a beacon of love and happiness in what might be a slightly sadder Christmas than we are all used to.

JYC 2014 - 20th December - WOW!!!!

Last year when Pickle unwrapped her presents, each received an emphatic Wow!

This year she has been slightly more circumspect and massively exciting presents have been accorded with a wondrous stare and her undivided attention for the next 20 mins.

We'll see how she manages but at least we're coming out of the years when the box was the most exciting part!

JYC 2014 - 19th December - Santa who?

At nearly 3 Pickle doesn't really understand about Santa. He did make an appearance at Nursery and brought presents which was good. But MiL has taken her to see him at the local shopping centre grotto twice and neither this year or last was she very happy.

I do want her to believe because it is part of the magic but it's very difficult as she can't yet understand that Father Christmas and Santa are the same person!

18 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 18th Dec - Christmas Dinner

Pickle isn't really into the idea of Christmas dinner, she's still a bit too young. She will tuck into her lunch no matter what day it is but for her there is normally too much veg going on in any roast for her to get excited.

We are having a bit of a bet on whether she will be a custard or cream on her Xmas Pud but that is a parental preference war only. At least at mum's we will eat at lunchtime, at our early Christmas, we didn't eat until 4 and, after such an exciting day, she fell asleep at the table!

JYC 2014 - 17th Dec - Important to-do list

There are things that are important and things that are IMPORTANT. In the midst of a hectic week, when I could have spent all of yesterday evening stressed and busy from when I arrived home, I took a stand and said No.

A mental review of my list declared that the best use of my time was to play house with Pickle and her new sylvanian families, then put her to bed with 2 festive stories (plus the jolly postman). And then have a bath whilst watching White Christmas.

Much better than an evening with a List. 

16 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 16th Dec - Muppet Christmas

I have definitely appreciated Pickle's enjoyment of watching Muppet Christmas Carol this year, although it has been given her personal name of Frog Snowman. She loves the songs and cuddles up during the scarier bits and it has been a lot of fun.

But something I could never have predicted is her delight in my John Denver and the Muppets Christmas album. Brought a few years ago as an addition to my dad's eclectic Christmas music collection, it is one of my favourites, with a mix of old classics and some lovely wintery songs that are very soothing amidst the hurly burly.

I  particularly love the songs that the muppets have a starring role in, and I challenge anyone not to giggle at Beaker helping with the 12 Days of Christmas. But to my amazement Pickle has become familiar enough with the characters to recognise their voices in a completely different setting, and enjoys it enough to demand several specific songs that she will giggle and squeak to.

So today we had Deck the Halls three times in a row, with both of us laughing like nutters and enjoying a special festive moment just for us.

15 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 -15th Dec - Decking those halls

Decorations, decorations, decorations. They must be everywhere that they safely can be (safety being the word with a 2-3 year old) but still fun and still pretty.

Most of the main decorating was done in one night after Pickle was in bed and the way that we put them up lead her into the living room to the tree. But there were one or two things that I made new for this year that have been around for a little while.

As far as delicate and fragile decorations, as well as my ever-increasing supply of Christmas candles and holders, these have been proudly displayed on the dresser top or very high shelves. Lovely to look at and safe from little hands. I loved doing it, and it makes the purchase and hard work decorating it more than worthwhile.

However all the pretty decorations in the world can't hide the toys strewn across the floor. But its all part of the fun. Well, as much fun as treading in Lego is!

JYC 2014 - 14th Dec - Where is Christmas?

Christmas for Pickle has only been in 2 places. An early one at her aunt and uncle's and the 25th spent at my mum's. The Early Christmas at OH's brothers started the same year that she was born but works well and looks set to continue to at least next year if not beyond.

I did wonder yesterday, as I was starting the long drive home, whether in the future Pickle will be confused over where she was because we do go to the trouble of having a Christmas for some of my OH's family early.

It isn't like we do it at my mum's but that would be the same whatever day it was held on. But for both we have a dinner and presents and decorations and for Pickle that will really be all she remembers.

One thing that is pretty certain is that we won't be having it at ours for a few years yet.

JYC 2014 - 13th Dec - Snow, what's snow?

Winter is coming. But it's coming very slowly and keeps sneaking back into autumn. Most reliable weather sources are predicting mild weather for this week with only lower temperatures in the week of Christmas.

Which means it will be even longer before I can take Pickle out to play in the snow. The only snow we've had since she was born was a week in January 2013, on a Friday so I was at work. I'm gutted as I really think that she will love it.

Thankfully we can make up for it a bit by watching lots of films with snow in and referring to every Christmas film as something to do with snowman!

13 Dec 2014

JYC2014 - 12th Dec - Christmas Mentor

My parents have always been fairly pro Xmas sort of people. We were the family that had loads of decorations and lights so I have always grown up with lots of Christmas spirit. 

So I find it very hard to understand that my OH doesn't share that insanity of excessive Christmas enjoyment. Up to know it hasn't really been an issue. More along the lines of something to be playful and annoying with.

But now that we have Pickle I have had to remind him that she will easily pick up on his attitude to things. I'm not expecting him to turn into a super jolly elf but he will need to leave his Scrooge mc Grinch act off for a few years at least.

JYC 2014 - 11th Dec - All wrapped up

In past years I have gone very upmarket with my wrapping but this year it is all about bright coloured, easy tear, and in large quantities.

And remembering not to cover every edge in sellotape in the kids presents.

10 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 10th Dec - making a list..

Actually I made 2 lists. And checked them more than twice! Two lists for 2 Nanny's from one very lucky little girl.

Two lists to source presents from for many grandparents, great-grandparents, Aunties and Uncles. Who all require an equal split of ideas of what Pickle wants. Except we're all still sort of guessing what that might be.

The Boy (Pickle's slightly older cousin) is much easier as he has definite likes and dislikes, so its just a case of seeing what was in stock where at the right time and price. Something suitable but still good enough to make me to Cool Auntie Pooh who buys great presents.

And for our new, much older cousin, we've gone straight for new clothes. Shopping for an exceptionally tall older child is quite difficult but thankfully no one is ever too old for Disney!

But for the two little girls of the family, it is hard to determine what they love from what they sort of like. It can change on a daily basis. And they actually don't have much concept of the sheer volume that they could ask for. And on no accounts must any present be loud or annoying or it will quickly find itself at the very bottom of the toy box.

Pickle this year is getting Lego and Sylvanians and Tink will be receiving Doc McStuffins and Peppa Pig.

With a little bit of Frozen thrown in.

Just in case.

9 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 9th Dec - Christmas deliciousness

I feel now as though I have baked EVERYTHING that I possibly could have done, even though I know I have just a little more to do.

My favourite Xmas treat to bake, something that I have started since OH and I have been living alone, is Stollen. A recipe taken from Delia, and tweaked and tested until perfect.

This year I have made great strides in its improvement. I can attribute some of this to slavishly watching Bake Off earlier in the year and learning the proper way to knead bread. Which makes all those hours of sitting in front of the TV worth it.

And the rest is due to comparing stollen with my favourite Easter Simnel cake which has a huge slab of marzipan running through the middle. This has worked marvellously with the stollen so all I need to do is make the final loaf for testing at my mums. All in the name of science!

JYC 2014 - 8th Dec - O Christmas Tree..

Our tree is positively groaning with sentimentality this year. 3 years of handmade decorations made by Pickle, as well as the impressive collection of my MiL which we are hosting this year to save it from a perilous journey abroad.

Though some things are too precious to actually make it to the tree, most things have made it on. Including my two snowmen who are cheekily peeping out from behind boughs and baubles.

And all wrapped up with a shiny new set of lights that twinkle and fade and didn't take hours to test for duff bulbs!

Pickle has been really good with the tree but she loves to sit in the beanbag next to it and gently blow on the tinsel, watching the lights reflecting in the golden strands.

JYC 2014 - 7th Dec - Feast for the senses

Pickle can see a house full of decorations and colour, tinsel rustling as she blows on it gently, reflecting the pretty twinkly lights.

Pickle can smell and taste all the Christmas baking. Mince pies and cake and stollen all to be savoured and tested. There is also the smell of the dust from the Christmas tree and deliciously sweet holiday candles.

Pickle can hear Christmas songs. Funny ones and nostalgic ones; Traditional carols and modern pop.

Pickle can feel snuggled and warm as we huddle up close to watch festive films and read Christmas stories.

7 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 6th Dec - Christmas Cozy.

I am glad that I am writing this a day late as we are just finishing up a proper Christmas Cozy weekend. Its a bit if a fluke, mixed in with the results of some good planning (and dare I say it) scheduling progress on my part.

Friday night I put up the decs with a little help from MiL. To be honest I had mixed feelings about sharing this job but actually it was lovely and meant that it took a lot less time than normal.

When we had said goodbye in Sat am, I cracked on with some Xmas baking but managed a sneaky nap in the afternoon. A little bit more baking early eve whilst Daddy and Pickle snuggled up and watched a film and then late evening  (amd into early hours) was devoted to picking my way through  book 3 of Game of Thrones. Perfect Sunday-ish Saturday.

Which meant that Sunday could be set aside for writing cards, an afternoon of hooky snuggled up with Pickle watching another film, roast chicken for dinner and an early evening game of horsey.

Very good for the soul (though not so clever on the knees!)

JYC 2014 - 5th Dec - Christmas Message

We wrote a letter to Santa this year. Mummy did the writing and Pickle signed her name. We addressed it and stamped it and posted it in the postbox and hopefully soon we will receive a nice letter back frim Father Christmas.

It was important to do a letter this year, as with so many of our Christmas traditions, I want Pickle to be sub-consciously aware of them so that they form a natural part of her recollections. So that in a couple of years she is asking to do them as they are what she associates with fun Christmas activities.

So we are starting them now when she hasn't got much grasp of what is happening and is really just humouring Mummy. Something else that she needs to become accustomed to in life!

JYC 2014 - 4th Dec - The greatest gift of all

In a year that I am likely to get less gifts than usual, its is fitting to think back in some of my previous presents. And especially as this is year Pickle will be getting a toy that I had at a similar age.

I remember the first dolls house that my grandad built me when I was about 4 or 5 for my sylvanian families. It had 3 storeys, with mock Tudor beams, a lovely red door (that sadly didn't last the day) and working lights that ran off 3 c cell batteries. There was some proper sylvanian furniture to match and a family of bears and rabbits.

I don't know how long it took him to make but I loved that dolls house and it had years of use before sadly being relegated to the attic. I unsuccessfully tried to renevate it later and we've had to throw it away now. But I wish that I had kept it as it was so that Pickle could have had it to play with for a few years too.

For the modern, post millennium, sylvanian things have gone more upmarket. They will be receiving a treehouse and log cabin for weekend retreats as a test before we decide whether or not to purchase the mansion. Only the best for our sylvanian family!

3 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 3rd Dec - Party time

Now I think of it, the fact that I don't do any hosting over Xmas is a bit odd as I do love to have a good party. But we are so far away from everyone that it just makes more sense to head towards the crowds and be guests, not hosts, over Christmas.

A new tradition is for the NCT group Xmas party, and it's funny that we plan it in a way that my parents used to plan parties with their close group of friends. Everyone brings something to eat and it's all fair so that the burden for the host is reduced as much as possible.

I love this kind of party, despite the small stresses of picking what to bring and hoping that it is up to snuff\not extravagant or show-offy. But it's miles easier than doing it all yourself. And frankly toddlers aren't very fussy so long as you stick to a staple menu of bread, crisps, sausages and cake.

This year we're being extra sensible by enduring the exhaustion of the toddler party in the afternoon and then treating ourselves to a posh meal out in the evening. Fully resplendent in festive knitwear.

2 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 2nd Dec - When do I want Xmas to start?

Christmas should start in July, November and December.

For some reason in the middle of summer (normally when it's too hot and I'm crabby) I long for Christmas and that is when the dangerous little thoughts of things that I can make start to fester and develop.

And then that feeling peters out when Autumn comes and things get just cosy enough to tide me over. I don't like thinking about it in October as I have birthdays to deal with and sometime still holiday to take. But in November I'm forced to start thinking of the practicalities and lists and presents without any of the fun and amidst a chorus of "but it's not December yet" in my mind if I'm thinking about the rubbishy parts then I should be entitled to think about the best bits too. But I have played the game too early before and it does lose the magic if it is forced to go on too long so I try very hard to wait for December 1st.

I want this year to be all about magic for Pickle, and though I have been laying groundwork and making things ready for the start of the month, I have not laboured the point. I want it all to come together in a magical harmony for her senses so that it creeps into her mind and heart and nestles in a special place for years to come.

1 Dec 2014

JYC 2014 - 1st Dec - Manifesto

Merry December! And boy hasn't it taken a long time to arrive! Well once I'd gotten over the fact that the year has just zoooomed past, but the last bit of November definitely dragged!

Part of my impatience is due to the fact that I want this Christmas to be special for Pickle as she is of an age where we can begin to introduce the magic of the season. Which is also why I'm doing JYC this year. I did it for her first Christmas but in a way this is more special because I feel that it is in these early years that she will develop her opinion of the season and I want it to sparkle with magic and fun and love and laughter.

My approach this year is blog and instagram, which will be also be posted on my Twitter account. I will blog my main posts which will form as a prompt for my journalling when I put the album together. I will also be trying to take as many pictures as possible via Instagram, (which I will pop up in my posts as I'm not sure how to link it all up!) I want to try to follow the photo prompts as much as possible and then come back to the videos when the book comes together.

So happy 1st of December to all, I hope that you are enjoying the first day of advent with a chocolate or treat or visit from a mischievous elf is however you like to celebrate!

Love Elliefantasy xx