Getting our Christmas Story straight

Toby, Gabe and me in front of the Christmas tree

I’ve been a parent for four Christmases now, this will be my fifth. But up until this year we haven’t had to give much thought to getting our Christmas story straight. And I’m not talking about the Baby Jesus here (although I’ll get on to him in a minute). I mean the intricacies of the the Father Christmas myth/ magic/ lie – call it what you will, I just never realised how complicated it would be! Read more

Bah humbug!

Bah humbug

Over the past month I’ve seen so many blogs filled with gift lists, Christmas crafts, festive recipes, tales of Christmas traditions and visits to Santa. And on my blog, this is the first time I have even mentioned Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big a fan of Christmas as the next blogger but I’m just not feeling especially festive this year. I am still at work until the 23rd of December, and then facing a Christmas Eve drive to Blackpool to spend a few days with my parents. The kids at school have all been hyper for the last two weeks and trying to keep them working and focussed has been a nightmare. Where did kids get this idea that they have some inalienable right to watch DVDs for the last week of term in every single lesson? (OK, I’ll admit, Ratatouille has made an appearance in some of my classes, but we have been studying food, and I’m showing it in French).

Anyway, what with having a stressful time at work and Toby still not sleeping, getting excited about Christmas has been the last thing on my mind. We put the tree and lights up at the start of the month but that’s about as far as my festive cheer has spread. If I’m honest, I also don’t see the point in making a massive fuss about it all when Toby is only 17 months old and hasn’t got a clue what Christmas is about. I was the same last year when he was only 5 months and even though it was his first Christmas we didn’t really do anything special. This year the only Father Christmas he’s seen was at the nursery party, oh, and the dancing Santa band at the garden centre which he loved. I’ve even decided that I’m not going to bother wrapping his presents (of which there are only a few) and carting them all the way to Blackpool only to bring them home again. He’ll be getting plenty of other presents off his Grandparents. And before you all start thinking what a horrible, mean mum I am I do intend to fully embrace Christmas when Toby is old enough to understand what it is all about. We’ll make decorations and visit Santa; we’ll have a Christmas Eve box and leave out whiskey for Father Christmas and a carrot for Rudolph; we’ll have a lovely morning unwrapping a pile of presents… but for now, when the Christmas present I would like more than any other is for my boy to sleep through the night my festive spirit is sadly lacking.

Am I the only one? Is there anyone else who’s not feeling the Christmas cheer this year?

The Gift of Giving with Frugi

Xmas-Family-Logo

I love Frugi clothes. They are absolutely fantastic for Toby as they are ‘cut for cloth’ meaning there is plenty of room for his big fluffy bum without having to go up a size. Not only do Frugi clothes fit Toby brilliantly they are also made of lovely soft organic cotton. And on top of that it’s also great to buy clothes from a company that aims to be ethical in everything they do, each year donating 1% of their turnover to three great environmental charities as a member of the 1% For The Planet scheme, as well as supporting an orphanage in India.

This Christmas (all right, I know it’s still only November but Starbucks have got the red cups out so we can officially talk about Christmas!) Frugi decided they wanted to share their ethos of giving back and wanted to give the Gift of Giving. So they asked each of the bloggers in the Frugi Family to choose a blogging friend to send a Frugi gift to.

Frugi

I was so touched when my lovely blogging buddy Donna over at Redhead Babyled chose us to receive her Frugi gift. And when I saw the top Donna had chosen for Toby I was delighted! I love this stripy reindeer long sleeve t-shirt – perfect for the festive season. The top is made of thick, soft organic cotton and it washes really well. And I think Toby looks super-cute wearing it too!

Frugi top and trousers

In these pictures Toby is also wearing his Frugi corduroy trousers that I bought in the January sales. They are 12-18 months (when in all his other clothes we’ve had to go up to 18-24 months) and there is still plenty of room in them. I love that they have an adjustable elastic waist so I can get a great fit on long, skinny Toby. They’re fully lined too so lovely and cosy and perfect for winter.

Thanks so much to Frugi and to Donna for choosing us to receive this gift!

 

**Disclosure: We were sent this Frugi top as part of the Gift of Giving project. All opinions are my own.

 

Toby’s first Christmas

Baby's First Christmas bauble

Throughout the run up to Christmas I read lots of blog posts about ‘Baby’s first Christmas’ and to be honest I was slightly baffled by the efforts some people seemed to be going to when their babies weren’t old enough to even be aware of Christmas let alone remember it. Toby was just over five and a half months old on Christmas day and I knew for him it would just be another day. He quite liked playing with our fibre optic Christmas tree but apart from that Toby had no idea anything was going on. And so I didn’t really see the point of doing anything to make his first Christmas ‘special’. Some people may think that’s a bit mean-spirited of me but I think it’s just that I’d rather save the fun stuff for when Toby is old enough to get excited about it.

We did make one concession to it being Toby’s first Christmas and that was to stay at home on Christmas day rather than go to my parents’ house like we usually do. That was a bit of a political decision too really – my in-laws usually go on holiday for Christmas so for the three years we have been together the hubby and I have always gone to my parents and there hasn’t been any worry about offending anyone. However, this year my mother-in-law is recovering from an operation on her neck and can’t travel so they were staying at home. My parents live in Blackpool and my in-laws in Manchester while we’re up here in Scotland so visiting everyone in one day just isn’t possible. By choosing to stay at home we didn’t have to decide which set of grandparents Toby would be with on his first Christmas morning. Instead we stayed with my parents on Boxing Day so we could see them and my brother and sister-in-law too and then we went to visit hubby’s parents for a few days after that which worked out well for everyone in the end.

I did buy a ‘My First Christmas’ bauble from Mamas and Papas but it does have the year on too so it’s a nice keepsake and something we can put on the tree year after year. We didn’t get Toby too many presents either. A couple of toys and books and some clothes. Seeing as Toby wouldn’t know what he was unwrapping (he did manage to help a bit with pulling the paper off though!) I didn’t tell the hubby any of the presents I’d bought and he got Toby something that I didn’t know about. That way at least someone got a nice surprise when the presents were opened. I don’t think I would have even bothered wrapping them this year if we had both known what was inside!

Playing the keyboard
Toby playing with his present from daddy

We still had a lovely Christmas day together and I got the chance to practice cooking my first Christmas dinner. But for Toby it was still a normal day. I did get him some new pyjamas for Christmas Eve but I didn’t bother with a Christmas Day outfit – he’s just moved into his 6-9 month clothes so there are lots of things he hasn’t worn yet. We managed to fit most of the day in around Toby’s usual routine pretty well though. And after weeks of waking up at least once during the night Toby gave us the best Christmas present he could – he slept from 6:30 pm on Christmas Eve until 8:30 am on Christmas Day without waking up at all! So then after we all got up and had our breakfasts we opened a few presents. Toby then went back to bed for his morning nap, we opened some more presents and I got started on the prep for dinner. After nap time we opened the rest of Toby’s presents, had lunch and a bit of a play then it was back to bed for Toby. The plan was to have our starter while he was still asleep but he woke up slightly earlier than planned. He was quite happy having a play on his baby gym while we ate though. Then we put in him in his new highchair while we had our main course and we gave Toby his first solid food to play with. We are planning on going down the baby led weaning route (more blog posts on that to come!) and although Toby isn’t quite six months yet we thought Christmas dinner might be a nice time to give him something to have a look at. So he played with a few carrot and parsnip sticks (although none made it into his mouth) while we ate our dinner. After that it was bed time for Toby and we eventually had our dessert (sticky toffee pudding – yummy!) at about half past eight.

Christmas dinner with baby
Christmas dinner!

So for us there was no disappointment, no anti-climax. Toby’s first Christmas was exactly as I expected it to be. It was a bit strange for me not to be with the rest of my family for only the second Christmas in my life, and I actually had a little bit of a cry in the evening because I realised I’d missed them, but overall we had a lovely time just the three of us. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing next year. The idea of going to my parents’ is actually quite tempting – at least then I might get a bit of a break. Although our Christmas day was great we still had to do all the things we do every day; nappy changes don’t stop for Christmas! I even had to do a nappy wash because we were going away the next day. And I had to cook Christmas dinner! At least at my mum and dad’s someone else would do the cooking and there would be other people to entertain Toby for a bit. I might even get my traditional Christmas afternoon nap myself! I know next year will be totally different anyway. Toby will be 18 months old and I’m sure he still won’t understand what Christmas is about but he might be able to open his own presents and maybe enjoy playing with some new toys – or the wrapping paper and boxes anyway!

If you had your first Christmas with your baby I really hope you managed to have a good one. If you want to read more about how babies’ first Christmases don’t always turn out how you planned then Donna has written a great post over at Redhead Babyled. And if your baby’s first Christmas wasn’t quite how you’d hoped then remember there are lots more Christmases still to come.

Review – Hobbycraft Christmas Crafts

I was recently asked to review some Christmas craft bits and pieces by the UK’s largest arts and crafts retailer Hobbycraft. I do love a bit of crafting but it’s not something I seem to have a lot of time for lately!

I was sent a red felt stocking filled with various Christmas craft items – none of which retail for more than £2. I was pleased to see this as I sometimes think that making things yourself can end up being more expensive than buying things ready made if you aren’t careful. Most of the items are available on the Hobbycraft website although I do think that if you have a store near you (and there are loads) then shopping for these kind of things tends to be much more fun if you can browse in the shop.

Hobbycraft Christmas Craft Pack

So some of the items in the stocking were:

Foam Clay Santa Kit / Foam Stickers / Gingerbread man stickers / Gold cards / Merry Christmas stickers (which don’t seem to be on the website)

The stocking itself isn’t on the website either but there are some pre-decorated stockings and a great video with some ideas of how you can decorate your own stocking. There’s a great variety of products on the Hobbycraft website for any Christmas crafting you might like to do – whether it’s making a wreath, your own decorations or your own Christmas cards.

I have to confess I haven’t had chance to use all the things I was sent yet. I have decorated the stocking using some bits and pieces I had left over from previous projects. I’m really pleased with how it’s turned out – the felt stocking seems very well made so hopefully it will last Toby for many Christmases to come. I was going to buy him a stocking but I think it’s lovely that he’s now got one that I have personalised for him – it makes it extra special!

Decorated stocking

I’ve also used the Merry Christmas and foam stickers to make some gift tags – something I never seem to have enough of when it comes to present wrapping time. I had some small luggage tags left over from our wedding so I used those and just stuck the stickers on. Toby is a bit little for crafting at the moment but I know kids love stickers and if he was a bit older sticking on the foam stickers is definitely something he could help with. The Merry Christmas stickers are a bit fiddly though – even for a grown up!

Gift tags

The glittery gingerbread men stickers are lovely – I think I’m actually going to pop some string on them and just hang them on the tree. And as for the Foam Clay Santa kit (which makes a small model Santa), I think the hubby has got his eye on that one!

I had great fun with my Christmas crafts – I’m looking forward to doing much more arts and crafts as Toby gets a bit older and Hobbycraft certainly have everything we might need. I sense a trip to our nearest store coming up in the not to distant future – or we can always order online. Standard delivery is £2.95 which seems quite reasonable, or free for orders over £30. And having a quick browse around website I’m sure I could spend £30 quite easily – I’ve got craft-lust! I’ve not really had time to do anything crafty since Toby was born so I’m pleased I got this opportunity to be re-inspired. Thanks Hobbycraft!

**Disclaimer: We were sent these items to review. However, all opinions are my own.