Sunday, December 27, 2009

More sprouts!

"Santa came!"
"Ooh! "

I don't think anyone was quite sure what to expect of Louis on Christmas Day, including Louis. Could an 18-month-old really "get" Christmas? I mean, it's all pretty bizarre, what with a tree suddenly appearing in your living room dripping with what are basically toys that he's not allowed to touch, and men dressed in red popping up all over the place: at parties, on houses, in gardens, in pictures. 

But come Christmas morning, Louis was pretty excited that "Santa came" and the "stocking" we'd hung up the night before had stuff in it to "open". Especially when Santa turned out to be a lot less fussy about gender specific toys than his Mum and brought him a "digger sand". (Am not sure what happened to Father Christmas; I guess Louis must have picked up more American than we thought.) Although he scoffed the "orange" Santa had left, he was more excited by the "money" that "Dan-dad" and G'ma Sue had stuck on Mummy and Daddy's presents. Apparently it's a Dutch tradition. Nobody tell him they're actually chocolate!

Judging by the pile of presents for Louis, no one had thought to test out the old adage that little children are just as happy playing with a cardboard box all day as a pile of presents. Not that I'm complaining. Louis' presents are all brilliant: lots of lovely, stylish warm clothes, a wooden 'sicycle', his first train set, some great Lego, books, a mini wooden toolbox, "jamas" with matching toy, and his very own "Piggle" doll that I bought him somewhat misguidedly in slight desperation at not having found anything else.  

Like his Mum, Louis took his present opening slowly to start with, but as he warmed up the wrapping paper came flying off. He made a useful present delivery man but only if the recipient didn't mind him doing their "open" for them. Somehow we stretched "open" out all day, but only after pausing for a cliff walk and an enormous lunch - Louis' second of the day. 

Lunch probably provided the biggest surprise of Christmas. Even though Louis's non meat-eating Mum relented and dished him up a smidgeon of turkey, the bird barely got a look in from Louis, and not just because there were eight different veggies accompanying G'ma P's bird. No, the biggest shock was Louis' taste for sprouts, sprouts and "more sprouts". Someone tell the sprout marketing board. Louis even has a special sprout pose when his face bunches up in excitement at the thought of yet more. I guess it means he'll be a cheap date for the rest of the festive period given that sprouts always seem to be discounted in the supermarket after Christmas. "Happy Kissmas" everyone. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More tree-ditions

So much for my fleeting plan to do a 12 days to Christmas countdown blog. There's now only two to go but suffice to say, we've ticked off a fair few more traditions. There's been the getting sick one (Louis, twice, and now DJ); the Christmas tree stress; and, a new entry for the Noughties, the nightmare that is internet shopping when you lack the luxury of a concierge, as in DC. 

The tree stress was classic. Initial disagreement over where to buy tree followed by B&Q being totally sold out of all things festive by 15 December, which incidentally was the earliest we've ever decided to do a tree. Then the tree that we brought home from the super pricey flower shop near us was vastly bigger than anticipated, so of course didn't fit in the tree stand we had. But could we find another tree stand, anywhere? Obviously not. Even when we'd managed to cadge one from 'dand-dad' we then had the joys of not one but two sets of tree lights breaking. It clearly would have been insane to imagine we'd be able to buy another set so 'close' to Christmas - thanks Selfridges - so we were stuck waiting for one to arrive in the post from John Lewis, only of course the 5mm of snow on the ground means that there hasn't been any post for days. 

And what has Louis made of all this? Well, he's enjoyed the additional Christmas cooking: 'stir it biscuits' and mince pies. And he's already firm friends with 'Santa', although he snoozed through the trip to his grotto that 'Curry and Go-seph' had planned for us the other day. But his favourite part of Christmas has to be the tree. Or the tree decorations to be more precise. He spends most of his time taking them all off. At least I can put him to work on Twelfth Night. 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas present

Christmas comes early

Am still thinking a lot about Christmas traditions. Although I've always enjoyed them, having Louis seems to elevate their importance. Like the cake wishing. I'm already wondering what sort of Christmases Louis will remember having had when he looks back on them one day. Obviously I realise time is on my side. He is only 18 months and clearly has trouble just remembering what he's done each day. But, still. It gives me something to think about other than my general fatigue .

Given that we're going to G'ma P's for the actual day, my musings thus far have been fairly materialistic. Specifically: will we be a heavy-on-the-presents family or a more spartan one? I'll never forget friends I had (still have) who must have had diametrically opposed Christmases: one, I'll swear, was pleased to get the two items on her Santa wish list, while the other would spend the entire day opening presents and have a totally new winter wardrobe at the end of it. (But actually, seeing as she didn't get bought any clothes for the rest of winter it was more a question of distribution, my mum pointed out.)

I'm actually getting rather alarmed at the thought of Louis getting lots of Christmas gifts. Which might explain why I haven't bought anything yet. By the time I've finished plotting the cost versus how long I think he'll play with something on some sort of mental graph with x being the amount of space it will take up and y its contribution to the plastic fantastic universe, somehow the transaction never gets made. So far, I haven't bought: a trampoline, a wooden bus, a hobby horse and an Iggle Piggle duvet cover. Not to mention a mini wooden kitchen from John Lewis. (Although the only reason there is that it's £106. If it wasn't it, I'd snap it up.) It's saving me a fortune. But I can't help feeling a bit mean.

That said, the only person who's asked me what Louis might like is my dad, so perhaps the 25th won't be the giftfest I'm imagining! And I already vetoed the replica police bike, complete with siren, that my mum was looking at. Nobody tell Louis!

PS Have just realised how horribly materialistic all that was. I should be worrying about which Christmas church service to take him to. Whoops.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

That'll be a D-

Okay, so can someone please tell me when it's supposed to get easier? This parenting lark? I've barely scraped a D- this past week, which was capped last night by Louis pushing his firetruck round the living room at, I kid you not, 11pm, screeching "nee nor nee nor". (At 9.30pm, I'd got so bored trying to persuade him to go to sleep that I took him downstairs to watch Gossip Girl with me. My hope that he'd crash out backfired: he watched agog, and this morning was telling DJ - who'd been at work - all about "Goss Goss".) He then proceeded to wake hourly from 3am....

If that was the cherry on the top of my bad mum week, I cooked the cake on Wednesday when I broke every mummy rule in the book after Louis hit his head. Well, before, really given that I shouldn't have let him escape from the swimming pool in the first place. I was just about to scoop him up when, obviously, he slipped backwards, smacking the back of his skull. Ooops. Mistake number two was deciding to get back in the water with him, whereupon he was promptly sick, then thereafter they just kept on coming. Let's just say the NHS Direct nurse clearly thought I was nuts when I told her he was asleep during our phone call. In my defence, it was nap time and he'd been awake since half five.

I then ignored her advice to take him straight down to A&E in favour of going to Chloe's first birthday party. Only to spend the whole time stressing out that Louis was way below par and did indeed need to get checked out. So for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to wait until his dinner time to break my A&E duck and take him along. Turns out the rest of south London had had a similar idea. The upshot is I didn't even manage to pull off a successful A&E trip: the wait was so long that once we'd seen the triage nurse I decided to scarper.

As it turned out, my initial judgment that he was probably okay, was probably the right one. Well, I'm guessing it was because he was clearly back to his old ways last night. Unless insomnia is a sympton of concussion that I don't know about? Perhaps it's just as well that we've had to cancel the babysitter tonight because DJ is sick. I'm thinking this evening just wouldn't have been the best time to attempt to leave Louis (asleep) with someone he's never met before. Though it is a shame about our evening out.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas wishes

'Stir it cak'

Talking of getting old, one highlight of having your own family, as oppose to just being part of one, is that you get to start your own Christmas traditions rather than just join in everyone else's. For me, this means getting to put the tree up earlier than Christmas Eve. It also means making my own cake, rather than just one at my Mum's. That's because of all the traditions, by far the most important is our annual baking session, and not just because we have sweet teeth.

Far more important are the Christmas wishes you make while stirring the mixes. It's always the same Christmas pudding recipe but we switched to a different cake one about ten years ago - from Leith's cook book if you need one. Various friends have joined in the wishing over the years, sometimes even telephonically. We're semi-religious about our wishes, which meant I had to time my cake baking last year for a weekend when Bam-ma was visiting. I recall having to substitute quite a few ingredients - who knew glace cherries were morello cherries in American? - but it came out okay in the end. And I think my wish came true.

I have high hopes for 2010 because this year I've managed two wishing, sorry, baking sessions: one at Bam-ma's and one at home (we needed a cake too plus DJ needed a chance to wish). Louis was in 'cak' heaven. Despite being seriously overtired this morning, 'stir it cak' kept him entertained for easily an hour. First he had to help me measure the raisins, currants and sultanas. And re-measure them to make up for all the ones that ended up on the floor. It all got very 'sticky'. Then he had to 'stir it' and keep 'stir it'. Until it was time to 'weeeeeeesh'. I think his must have come true, because five minutes later I caught him with his finger in the bowl. 'Nice!'

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Getting old

At 18 months

Getting old, it has always struck me, boils down to a handful of things. In no particular order, these include listening to the Archers (a Radio 4 evening drama for US readers), listening to the Today programme (a morning news show on Radio 4), listening to Radio 4 generally, taking up gardening, birdwatching and hoovering before you have visitors.

And that's just for starters. Other markers, for me at least, are being called Susanna not Susie - for some reason, I remember being adamant when I was little that I'd have to be called Susanna when I was a grown up - cutting my hair short, properly short, not just in a bob, and wearing high heels to work.

I'll leave you to guess which ones I've succumbed to so far. There is one more key trait, though, to which I'll admit I'm guilty. And, surprise, surprise, it concerns Louis. Actually, there's another: you definitely had to be old to have kids. To be more precise, it concerns Louis and time. Namely the passing of time, which, as everybody knows, just gets faster and faster and faster the longer you live. When you're small, an hour can stretch on for a lifetime with a whole day, especially Sundays, lasting an eternity. And not in a good way, as I recall.

But now. Oh no. Now time is a completely different concept, speeding up practically daily. Thanks to Louis it is blindingly obvious how quickly it is galloping by. For instance, do you know what day it is today? It is his one-and-a-half year birthday. Granted, not a conventional milestone to celebrate, but it feels like a milestone nonetheless. Not least because it casts me back so clearly to this time last year, his six-month marker. We were in Boston, spending the weekend with Mum, and I recall that at six months, with his new taste for baby rice, Louis seemed all but grown up.

Little did I know then how old he'd seem today, 5 December 2009. If all his chatting - he's started stringing words together now - wasn't evidence enough of his aging then how about this: from now on he is apparently no longer a baby. Or so says my BabyCentre email anyway. And to be honest, I'd have to concur. I guess that might explain at least why I've been trying to wean him. It doesn't explain, however, why I feel so bad about doing so.