Our Christmas is always a long family holiday as Michael has mandatory shut down at work. Something that seems to surprise his dad every year for some reason or other. The company closes at lunch time Christmas Eve and reopens the next ‘reasonable’ business day after the holiday- this year that means tomorrow. As I mentioned before-the first four Christmas’s with the kids were all a bit manic-especially as they both have birthdays in December. Last year we had decided to stop the birthday parties for now and to have a low key Christmas-and it worked well. I think this year was on an even lower key, but still rather enjoyable.
We were actually well prepared with the decorating and the children’s gifts this year. I even bought everything except a pair of proper binoculars for both of them in an actual shop. In the previous years so much was done on the internet-which I don’t mind for a bargain, but does tend to diminish the fun of buying gifts. The kids and I did all the shopping for their cousins-and I think they enjoyed the process of buying for others. The fact that Hazel insisted her Gran would love some new tea-towels seemed to make it clear she was giving what she really thought the other person would like. So, I have to say the whole lead up to Christmas and the kids birthdays was enjoyable.
Boxing Day (Dec. 26) was mostly spent in Lego heaven. Both children started their new kits. I wasn’t sure how far they’d get-but they were mostly completed in two days. Kieran needed very little help, and Hazel was as adept as ever, though she seemed a bit daunted by the roof and put it off a few days-but did manage it on her own.
Saturday was a quiet day at home. Michael’s parents were coming late in the afternoon and we had thought about going out, but decided to stay in and cook. I had wanted a butternut squash soup for lunch, Hazel wanted to bake and Michael wanted to make a casserole for dinner. The kids baked mince pies and a batch of jam tarts-strawberry and apricot. I think apricot are my favourites. His parents arrived about 5 and stayed till just after 9.
Sunday was spent in Oxford-though the museum we went to was closed. Argh! Michael had checked, but they were closed anyway. To Blackwell’s it was-where both kids bought something with money their Great-gran sent for them. We had planned on having a pub lunch, but when Michael mentioned it his parents decided they’d just wanted a coffee. Um? What to do?-we decided on a coffee shop that did sandwiches. I don’t do coffee shops often (as I dislike coffee) so it was our first time in a Pret A Manger. The sandwiches were nice, though Hazel and I agreed we don’t like tomato on egg salad (mayo) sandwiches. We did see that the Oxford Museum was open so we all popped in for a wander. The kids and I hadn’t been before so it was new to all. Hazel did the brass rubbings throughout the museum, but as predicted has never asked for them since. They never want to look/keep anything they make outside the house.
Once home we had some tea with the treats the kids baked. We ordered a Chinese take-away for dinner, as what we had planned wouldn’t have been enough as his parents hadn’t had a proper lunch. They left about 9:30.
Monday (Dec. 29th) his parents came by around 11 for a couple of hours. They just wanted a quick lunch and then they were heading home-with hopefully no traffic. So we just had some ham and cheese sandwiches with tea. I think they left about 1pm, and we decided to go do some shopping. I did need a glue gun after all.
HobbyCraft was our first port of call. The glue gun was on sale. Hazel found another latch hook kit she wanted-as it was half-price, how could I say no? Michael also found a selection of watercolour paper going for half-price-so he’s stocked up. Hopefully he’ll start painting again-it’s been almost 4 years since he’s done anything. He is good and it’d be good for the kids to learn a few techniques-as I’m hopeless.
Then, I know it was just a couple of days after Christmas-but to Toys R Us we went. The kids received two of the same PlayMobile RV (camper van) from his parents so we returned the one and exchanged it for the house. While there we also let them get the PlayMobile playground as well. They’ve played with them quite often all week-especially the playground, though Hazel’s idea of playing with them is just putting the pieces back in place after Kieran plays with them. I also bought two huge bottles of bubbles-as with these wands I think they are going to be doing plenty of bubbles.
Later that evening Dan called to say Carole was in labour and that he’d be bringing Victoria over. I was pleased to see she was happy when she got here-never know how they’ll handle being woken up. She had to tell me all about Fr. Christmas coming to her house, etc.. She did look a bit sad when Dan left, but I asked if she wanted to read a story and that’s all it took to put a smile on her face. Hazel woke when Michael was putting Victoria’s bed in the room, so the three of us cuddled up in my bed for a couple of stories. Then they went to bed-and Victoria just curled up with her baby doll, said goodnight and went to sleep. Boy-was Kieran a very happy boy to see his future bride first thing in the morning!
So Tuesday the kids basically played all day. Victoria surprised me by never once asking about her parents or if the baby had come. Which we didn’t know anyway-but I thought she’d ask at some point. When Dan came just after 2pm to pick her up, she was too busy playing with me and Kieran to even ask about the baby-or to give him a kiss. But with a little reminder-she was off to go see her new sister!
After they left we braved the crowds and went shopping in town. The crowds weren’t too terrible-so it wasn’t as dreadful as I thought it’d be. We all got some things from Millets and Michael got some new clothes from the only department store in town. He’s slowly but surely (I can’t push too hard!) moving away from his Wrangler jeans stage of life.
It was late when we were arriving home, so we decided on chips and chicken from the take away. It’s been ages since we had some-and we all ignored the fact that it wasn’t free range chicken.
Hazel was almost through when her fourth tooth came out. Or to correctly put it-till Hazel pulled it out! She is so brave-I wouldn’t have done that for all the tea in China. It is the bottom one on the right of the photo. So the fourth tooth out-and we are another £5 poorer. Kieran showed her how to use the timer on the camera so this photo is one she took of herself.
Upon awakening on Wednesday I decided I was going to get the dishes I’d been debating over for awhile now. The fact that it took over a year to make up my mind doesn’t matter. At least they were still available. We have been using some melamine plates we bought almost two years ago-which were only supposed to be for the patio. Off to the retail park we go. The crowds weren’t that bad again-so we managed to have a nosey around a few shops. Michael and Hazel were the luckiest that day-with Kieran only getting another pair of jeans. We also managed to get a gift for baby Camille. Then ten minutes later bumped into Dan & Victoria at a shop just before they went to collect them from the hospital.
In the evening the kids watched the Royal Inst. of Science Christmas Lectures which was about computers. Not a topic they know much about-but they watched the three episodes at the end of the week and really enjoyed them all. We are going to a few of their lectures this year and they are really looking forward to going. So is Michael for that matter!
We spent all of Thursday at home just playing, reading and doing a few errands.
Michael washed the cars-a much needed job. I had gotten an IPod for Christmas-our first modern gadget. It became appealing to me when I realized how many cd’s they could hold. But I had to laugh about the irony of it all. You know you’re old when you get your first IPod and you are uploading John Denver to it!
On Friday we went to the local library and into town. I needed to straighten out my library card-they hadn’t taken a fee off for something that I had paid-and it was still going up. They cleared it off the card right away-so I’m glad I went to that branch. The market in town had a new baker there-so the kids each picked out a gingerbread man-which was in compensation for not baking any ourselves. We posted the cards for the new baby-and two minutes later ran into Dan & Victoria again. Great timing or what?
Saturday started as a lazy day, but then we decided to have a drive out to Didcot Railway Centre. Kieran had seen a couple of programmes lately about the history of the steam train here in the UK and was eager to go back. He had seen the men talking about train spotting-so he brought a notebook and pen to write down the numbers and names of the trains he saw.
When we were in one of the sheds Kieran wanted to know what some tracks/groves in the cement were, but I didn’t have clue. Just as we were walking away I saw a man come out of one of the work areas and head to where we had just been. I told Kieran to go ask about the grooves-and was surprised when he ran all the way back to the man to ask. The man decided to not only answer that question-but we spent a good half-hour with him. He was telling us all sorts of things and let them into one of the trains that are only open on special days. They had a private tour of the trains kitchen and dining car. While in the dining car I mentioned that my dad had worked as a waiter in an antique (stationary!) Pullman car. He said that that was a coincidence and wanted to know if I wanted to see what they were working on. I took the bait-and he lead us into the staff only work shed-where he was working on restoring one of the old British Pullman Dining cars. I’ll look forward to seeing that completed one day in the future.
A bitterly cold day to be standing around chatting-but we had a great time. We bought a family membership-so will hopefully be getting there on a few of the Steam Days.
Today we had an easy morning. Then we decided to go to the Pasty shop for lunch and a wander around town. We got to town just before 1pm and had lunch. Then we walked around the shops for a bit-and bought a few more things. I saw two ‘book’ bags in Millets that I thought would be great for the kids library books. They were half-price so it was almost a bargain. It would have been a complete bargain if they both hadn’t just gotten a large and a small rucksack for Christmas each! But-these will be much better for the books. Once home they set about making pizza for dinner and I’ve been typing this. Now though, I’m off to watch Lark Rise to Candelford!