Winter blues and the return of the Mojo

The start of December was mostly about being ill. First it was me. I think I had tonsillitis, an experience I am happy never to repeat. Then both the older children had what added up to a week off school between them, one with a vomiting bug and the other with the same symptoms as me. To finish it off, I got the vomiting bug, spent 32 hours in a darkened room and then passed it on to The Husband, who, as usual was barely been ill and refused to take any time off work. In this house, it’s the woman who gets the ‘man flu’.

All this illness definitely left me feeling grumpy and fed up. I could quite happily have given motherhood a miss for a few weeks. I was not feeling the joy at all. It’s horrible when you feel like that. I usually have a kind of certainty in the back of my mind that it won’t last forever. I know that it’s usually just the circumstances but still, it can make you worry. When motherhood is your day job and you feel like quitting, home is probably not the happiest place to be.

Fortunately, In the last week or two I seem to have got my mojo back. This also coincided with a pretty drastic haircut.IMG_5744I feel like a new woman. It’s had such an effect on me I’ve even been wearing lipstick!

I’ve got loads of stuff I want to post, mainly because I feel like this is a little family archive now. So, here it is. December’s fun and games in photos…

Generally I like this time of year. I’m happy to see the decorations go up…IMG_5614

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IMG_1040Turning on the lights is always a special moment. So far our cheap lights from Woolworths haven’t let us down. They must be 10 years old.

IMG_1048Every year there are a few new decorations on the tree. These were made by Son Number One and The Middle Miss. The robin and snowman were from kits and the glittery bauble was from school.

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I haven’t really got into Christmas baking mode yet. We still don’t have a Christmas cake though I have made quite a few of my favourite, easy crushed pineapple cakes, which are similar. Unfortunately we have either eaten them or given them as gifts. The Husband baked some fun, Christmas tree cakes for the children to take to the school cake sale and I have finally baked some mince pies but that is it. I think the lack of baking coincided with my lack of mojo.IMG_5621

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That’s not to say that the oven hasn’t been on. On the contrary, at one point it seemed it was hardly off! The children and I got stuck into making salt dough ornaments…IMG_5678
IMG_5725Now, this all sounds very lovely and crafty but I assure you it was more out of desperation that our playdough had all dried up than anything else. Salt dough is quick, cheap and easy to make, really, honest. You can find the recipe I used here, though I also like the look of this one if you fancy something more akin to playdough. I had quite a lot of salt dough left over so I decided to take it to the Bumps and Babies group that I run and see if any of the mums wanted to made a handprint with their baby. All the babies in this group are experiencing their first Christmas and I had this idea in mind….IMG_5782I think it turned out quite well, though I am slightly concerned that the dough was a bit wet and might never be completely dried out. My second batch was much better. I think, like pastry, if you can use the minimum amount of liquid to bind the ingredients together you will get the best result. You really need to get your hands into the dough early on so that you can judge this. The good thing about salt dough is that you can’t really overwork it, unlike pastry.

I had some fun making some (slightly modified) jolly holly and turning it into a decoration for my hat. I didn’t stiffen it though so it looks considerably more droopy now. The berries are made from little bells and I can hear them jangling every step I take. I don’t think anyone else can.

IMG_5653My Christmas gift shopping is complete now. I have made a bit more of an effort to shop outside the big supermarket chains and online retailers. I haven’t managed it completely but it’s had it’s up side. I managed to get an afternoon out to visit our local Christmas market one day when I was feeling pretty blue. It was very cold but the time out cheered me up.IMG_5637Father Christmas will be bringing some gifts from this stall though I don’t think they are in this picture.IMG_5776I was also lucky enough to have a day out last weekend with my Mum at the Bowes Museum Christmas Market. It was a great trip. There was out of town parking with a free park and ride on specially decorated vintage buses. There were all sorts of craft and food stalls. I actually parted with most of my cash in the museum shop and in Barnard Castle itself. The stalls were lovely but I don’t tend to buy much at crafty places because I know so many people within the family who knit and sew. I was taken with a stall selling rows of hooks made from upcycled old cutlery and I nearly parted with £80 (way more than I would normally even consider) for a set of framed Thomas the Tank Engine postcards. The park and ride buses stopped in Barnard Castle on the way back and I was very pleased to get the opportunity to shop. We drive through this town every time we visit the in-laws and I always want to get out and explore but we never have time. There are some lovely shops, it’s well worth a visit, especially if you like antiques and vintage.

This week has been mostly about the end of term; school parties and nativity shows and even a performance on the electric guitar by Son Number One. Of course, the end of term means something else I always look forward to….My BIRTHDAY. I’ve had a lovely day today sharing my mince pies with my friends, unwrapping presents and eating a big, home-cooked (by my Mum) chinese style meal with my family. Poor Mum, she wasn’t feeling very well today but she still gave me a party. What a star. Here is my collection of presents.IMG_5814Didn’t I do well?

If you have been celebrating the solstice today I hope you have been having a happy time. Anyway, at least the world didn’t end.

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Up Early

My babykins is not the greatest sleeper. He’s got a habit of waking up when the first number on the clock is still a five. As far as I’m concerned, that is just Wrong. WRONG. You would think I’d be used to rising early, having three children but the other two never did this to me. Son Number One was frequently to be found tucked up at eight a.m. when he was a baby.

It’s not all bad. Fortunately I am more of a morning person than a night owl. I quite enjoy being up while the house is still quiet and relatively tidy.

I am trying hard to savour these little moments of calm, just me, babykins and Chris Evans.

Cake? Thanks Chris, don’t mind if I do.

They won’t last for long. He’ll soon be one. That time has gone by in a flash. No doubt, in the blink of an eye I’ll be complaining about having to turf him out of bed for school.

So, in the interests of documenting family life, here are a few pictures of my (early) morning start.

Tea, the first essential of the day.

Followed by biscuits. I can’t help it. I was brought up by my Mum waking me with a cup of tea and a bourbon biscuit.

I like to check on what’s happening in the world too, hence the phone.

Of course, at this time of year there is the Tree to enjoy. It’s nice to be able to turn on some lights that are soft and not too dazzling when you are Up Early.

Eventually we are joined by the rest of the family. Woe betide any child arriving downstairs without their school uniform on. Except for now, in the holidays, of course. Then lounging is allowed. As is CBeebies.

And how do I look first thing in the morning? Are you sure you’re ready for this? You might want to hide behind a cushion, it’s a scary sight.

Good job it’s out of focus.