Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

For us the run up to Christmas was every bit as special as the big day itself. I think if the focus is on Christmas day alone then the whole experience is very short lived. So we have really made the most of and relished all of the wonderful festive activities on the run up. Aside from all the wonderful things I already blogged about we finished school (as usual limping towards the end tired and with colds and sneezes) with Joa's little pre-school concert which was just brilliant. The wee ones were so sweet dressed in their wee festive clothes and with Christmassy face paint. They sang three little songs and shook their shakers with glee. It was short but very, very sweet :-)
The days between school ending and Christmas Eve was taken up with making decorations, shopping, finding recipes, preparing food and writing cards.
On Christmas Eve we met up with several other families in the pub. It was early evening, a good time to have a few drinks and wish each other a merry Christmas. About half an hour after we arrived we took all the kids outside to see if we could spot Santa flying over head. We had seen on the weather forecast that he was due to fly over Ireland between 17.20pm and 17.26pm. The kids all lined up outside the pub and kept a sharp eye out. It seemed to take ages so we decided to sing Jingle Bells to see if that would bring him along our way faster...and it did, we spotted the magical glow of Santa's sleigh slowly passing overhead. It was so exciting and seeing the children's faces was so lovely.

 We headed off home, put out the stockings and a treat for Santa and then after a few stories tucked the wee ones up in bed. Poor Rebe had a very hard time getting to sleep but eventually all were quiet.

Christmas Day was filled with magic from the moment we woke (at 7am, very civilized!)
 Santa had been able to bring the things the children had wished for. For Rebe a diary and a Tin Tin book, for Benny an electric train and for Joa a garage for his cars. He also brought lots of other wonderful treats and surprises too. We also had gorgeous and thoughtful gifts from friends and relatives.
 We feel very lucky to have all of these wonderful new things to play with and do!
 While the kids were busy playing with their new things Garry and I headed for the kitchen to prepare the dinner...

chocolate biscuit cake shaped like a christmas pud
 While the dinner was in the oven we went down the village for an hour to wish our friends and neighbours a happy Christmas and at home again we skyped with my family in the UK.

 The feast was nearly ready, just the trimmings and setting the table with Rebe's help and then we ate until we could eat no more.
After dinner I dropped the kids to Andy so they could spend part of the day with him and stay over for Boxing Day. Garry and I spent a peaceful and happy evening together.
the sunset on our Boxing Day walk

It was a wonderful Christmas, filled with everything I could have asked for. I hope yours was too!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

the tree and meeting santa

Last Saturday we had such a lovely day. We decorated the tree (well the kids and Garry did while I took pictures and supervised from a restful place on the sofa)

it's so lovely to find favourite decorations again

the angel on top and a few silly poses to finish off...

 Then we wrapped up warm and headed to the lovely little cafe in our village to meet Santa.
There were lots of other people waiting to see him, lots of our friends and neighbours to chat with.
Mrs Claus was in a tent with a little heater reading stories to the children...

 We sipped on some mulled wine (non-alcoholic for me and the kids) and tasted all the baked goodies on offer until the elves called our names and it was our turn.
 We followed the path lit by tea lights up through the aviary in the cafe's garden.
 At the end of the path was Santa's hut,
 and inside the big man himself.
 He chatted with the kids. Asking them questions and agreeing that yes he had seen them the day before at school and preschool. He told them he fed the reindeer sausages! And asked them to leave him out some milk and cookies on Christmas Eve. Then he asked the kids to sing Jingle Bells for him, which we all did with gusto and he said to make sure we sing it again on Christmas Eve before the fire so he will know where we are.
 Then he gave each child a lolly and a little bag of treats.
When we had said our thank you's and see you soon's we had another listen to Mrs Claus' stories before heading off.
It was such a lovely, special experience, really understated and very reasonable, all profits going to charity. It was so nice too, being local, meeting people we knew and the food and drink offered by lots of elf helpers was gorgeous and home made. Carols were sung and we just loved every second.
Not quite ready to go home we went to the pub a few doors up and sat by the fire chatting with some friends and looking at all the little things Santa had given the kids.
 To end the evening we went 'dessoration' spotting on the way home. Stopping off at the promenade to sing another chorus of Jingle Bells under the village tree.
 Just as we were leaving the house that afternoon Garry had switched on all the twinkly Christmas lights so as we approached our house we were greeted by this beautiful, warm, cosy glow...
It was such a lovely day and has the makings of 'family tradition'. Talking of which, I was talking with Rebe about something we did last year: One evening before Christmas we had all cuddled into the living room together to watch Narnia. We had the fire blazing and Garry made hot chocolate with whipped cream served with shortbread. I asked did she remember doing that last year (the only the time we did this) and she replied, 'Yes and when we did the year before, and the year before that and the year before that.'
Isn't it funny how it made such a strong impression on her that she remembers it being a life long tradition.
This is what we give them isn't really? Memories so strong they last a life time!

Friday, December 12, 2014


holly & ivy

 Winter is well on the way here. The temperature has dropped. After such a mild autumn it is feeling cold...and my coat hardly fits over my bump anymore!
 We are starting to prepare for Christmas. A few days ago Garry, Joa, the dogs and I went to the woods to collect some ever greens to make wreathes and decorations for the house.

 We have made a lovely wreath for the front room and the boys made little ones to have in their room.
As well as getting into the spirit at home; slowly decorating the house, finishing off our shopping and thinking about (although not actually doing yet) writing our cards, Christmas do's are happening:
 The RNLI Christmas Ball. Held at the local hotel, organised single handedly by Garry. It was a brilliant night, made extra special by 2 of his brothers and their partners coming down and sharing it with us. We had so much fun and as I spent my beer money on raffle tickets I cleaned up and won some lovely prizes. We had a lovely wee dance and a nice meal, lots of chat and an awful lot of laughter.
 The school had their Christmas play which was simply brilliant. Rebe was an angel. She was handing out slices of cake as we arrived. Benny was a robin. It was so sweet and so funny and I only cried twice which is a minor miracle in itself!

Today is a big day for the kids. Santa is coming to Joa's preschool to visit the kids and then staying on to see the After School Club that Benny goes to. And at Rebe and Benny's school there is a Christmas Party with a prize for the most festive costume. So yesterday we baked in preparation. It was like a Christmas baking factory I tell you!
 Joa made a chocolate cake...

 Benny made Honey cakes and Peppernuts

 Rebe did the icing.
 Wow, I was tired after all that and didn't want to be in the kitchen anymore so Garry made dinner:
 they had bacon and cabbage and I had roasted butternut squash with walnuts and goats cheese.
Lately Garry does most of the cooking. He's really enjoying it, making up new recipes and we are really enjoying eating it!!
So off the kids went to school this morning, all dressed up. Joa in a smart tie, shirt and favourite trousers, Benny as Father Christmas and Rebe as a Christmas Tree.
 I can't wait to pick them up again to hear all about it.
I hope you are having a wonderful winter time too :-)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

late November

 a trip to the beach with Bubs
 Frozen crown for Joa's little friend
Car washing

Wow, what a busy few weeks we've had here. My mum came to visit, which was so lovely. We hadn't seen her since Easter so we had a wonderful time catching up. We had walks on beaches and little shopping trips, gorgeous meals out and wonderful coffee and cake. She babysat for us one evening while Garry and I went to watch Damien Dempsey in concert in our local town. It's been so long since I have seen live music, he was amazing, we really enjoyed it!

There was parents evening, there were trips to the city to do our Christmas shopping, there have been walks, there is school, doctors appointments, hospital appointments, art class, doll making, dinner with friends, Christmas craft fairs and the list just goes on. There has been very little resting (and probably less housework!).

Garry continues to be on the mend, but was called back to the hospital for further checks, the results of which we are still waiting for. But he is doing ok, keeping busy and being the most wonderful help here.

I am feeling fine, pretty tired at times (but that's not surprising when I read all that back!) the baby is kicking away like mad although as yet I'm the only one to feel those kicks. I can't believe we will be half way there next week.

The coming weeks look a little less manic and rather festive. The kids have their school nativity and there are visits to Santa as well as lots of little festive things we are planning on doing at home.