Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Antics...

So Christmas came and went in a whirl of madness.

Christmas Eve
- The day was a pleasant one. I had purposely got the busy stuff out of the way the day before in order to spend time with the kids today. P had to work a half day and so planned to be home around lunch time, but in the event ended up nipping into town for a couple of odd things he had not been able to get earlier and to a different supermarket than our usual, for things they had sold out of - and ended up spending another £70 in total!! Once he was home he had the job of amusing the little ones, while I cooked yummy stuff with the older ones. I decided that having a mammoth 'everyone cooking with Mum' session would be way to stressful, so they would have a turn each and make one thing each with me. This turned out well, as I had four recipes planed and J2 didn't want to cook with me ( :( ). So, E helped first to stop her nagging, and we made up the muffin mix ready for the morning. Easy! All I did was crack the egg, help her weigh stuff and tell her what to do :) Phoebe next and we made Baklava (a-la Nigella), for which we enlisted Boo to help shell all the pistachios - two packets worth!! This was a relatively easy dish too, but did require significantly more help from me, but that was nice to spend some time with just P - and she does love cooking :) Abbie next and we made Chocolate, maple and pecan pie - which was also quite easy to make, but there were lots of little 'bits' to do and then add together, so it was a tad complicated, but we had fun and licking the bowl was divine!! Both of the cooked dishes turned out really well and in the event were/are very tasty! I had planned to be in bed at midnight and made it by 10 past - the first time in over a week I had been to bed before the small hours! All the pressies were wrapped and sorted under the tree and in individual Christmas gift bags laid out ready for the early morning onslaught!

I went to bed leaving my Mum still wrapping in the front room and hoping that she would get done quickly and go to bed, but in my heart of hearts knowing that she wouldn't, because she never does! Year on year she stays up all night Christmas Eve wrapping and is then less than best (to say the least) the next day :( She had been wrapping since 8am and was less than 1/2 way through the task. Now that would make you think she gives way too much, but you would be mostly wrong. She does give a lot, but mostly cheap little
nic-knacks that she has picked up over the year, but the quantity is only half the issue here. To watch her would make you wince; She carefully folds and refolds every crease of paper, she seals every edge meticulously with sellotape (to the point the children get frustrated trying to open things) and re-enforces every corner in case the paper gives even the tiniest bit on the box edges! She encases every parcel (no matter how small) with gift ribbon and spends upto 10 mins arranging the curls and tag so precisely. She mostly uses second hand paper (all credit to her) and spends a while covering every mark with a 'sticker' (cut up card or something) and sealing the edges of that with tape also. Total wrapping time for ONE present 15 -30 mins!! It is slightly crazy!! I say year on year that it's all very lovely but she is pretty much wasting her time, because the children are more interested in what's inside and they might notice the paper, but really they just want to get it off!!

Christmas Day
- The reason I tell about my Mum is that is has knock on effect on Christmas every year, but this year was possibly worst than most, because it really affected the kids morning :( We have no rules about rising times on Christmas morning - it's too hard to police these days! So before they went to bed I had told them that whatever time they woke up they could go downstairs, open their boxes/bags, enjoy their new things quietly for a bit and then go back to bed until at least 7 - preferably back to sleep and don't disturb us before then. By 'whatever' time - I really do mean that, because once awake the excitement is too much and they can't go back to sleep anyway, so my theory is 'get it out of their system' and we might get more peace! Now, ordinarily this works really well and the earliest I have known them to be up before now was 4am (a couple of years back) - they didn't really disturb us that year, we just slightly heard them, and they jumped on us at 7 with their new possessions in hand - lovely!! This year I was woken by the sound of wailing and 'it's not fair' at 4am. Not exactly what you want to hear from your children on Christmas morning :( It turned out the oldest four had been down at 2.15 and sent back to bed because, of course, Mum was still up wrapping - lights all still on etc... and she was quite sharp with them I think (judging by her attitude about it later), they had laid awake chatting then for ages and tried to go down again at 4 - and been turned away again!! This time they were thoroughly upset by it because it was the complete opposite of what we had said they could do! I went and saw them and then went downstairs and told Mum I was sending them down in 1/2 an hour and she had better have cleared out of the lounge by then - I also told her how angry I was with her for spoiling the 'surprise and excitement' of Christmas early-hours opening! So at 4.30 I chivvied them all downstairs, and ordinarily I would have gone back to bed, but because Mum was still up and by now very grumpy, I didn't want to leave her to spoil things for them even more, so I stayed up for an hour with them. They were all thrilled with what they opened which redeemed the moment somewhat. P tried on her new outfit and the boys dived into their selection packs (yes, at 4.30am!) and then I ushered them all back to bed where they went back to sleep until 7. And actually the two youngest didn't get up at all till then, so we did their bags before breakfast. I then pottled into the kitchen to make our Cranberry muffins - which did as I intended - filled the house with yummy smells, but sadly the children didn't eat them at all, so chocolate pillows and sandwiches as normal for them! Next year I think I am going to do Chocolate Cinnamon muffins - if they are brown they might get eaten!! I then went to put the bird and the gammon in the oven and prep the veg. As soon as I opened the bag with the turkey in I knew it was not going to make it to our table - it was seriously off!! P had taken it out of the freezer too soon and the lack of space in the fridge... In hindsight we should have left it in the freezing cold garage, but hey-ho - I was glad we had the gammon to fall back on, and that it was big! Jake was a little disappointed because he loves turkey and we only have it once a year! To compensate, we have bought another one to have tomorrow (Sunday) instead :) We all had to be at church by 10, so no lazing around - and for me broken sleep is worse than no sleep, hence by the end of the day I was zombiefied, but in the middle I was OK! Church was lovely - with P doing the kiddie bit; getting them to show off all their new toys. He is so good with the little ones and they all talked to him except for Caleb & Phoebe! C had taken his bike to show off, but wouldn't do it when he had the chance & Phoebe passed off the opportunity to twirl in her new Pumpkin Patch skirt - funny kids are! Anyway, once home the children were then allowed to open some more presents for an hour or so whilst lunch got itself cooked through. The main present to the oldest 5 children this year was a Wii, and it was our intention to have them open it last, but when opening presents from other relatives they opened a parcel containing two Wii games, so that gave the game away and we had to then let them open the main thing. They were of course ecstatic :) Other main presents included an electric guitar (free second-hand) for Jake, with my old amp, new lead and new plectrums - we was very chuffed with the plectrums!! A new wooden indoor bike for natty, and water drums - he is SOOOO thrilled with the sticks!! A Sylvanian set each for the big girls (out of their own money actually), Brand new Thomas bike for Caleb (as mentioned) and The Dr & Nurse Sylvanian people to complete E's hospital set. The worst bit of the day was having E in tears when nothing came out from under the tree for her because, the Wii being from us, anything she was getting was coming from my Mum - and it hadn't been wrapped!! In the end I sent Mum to get it and give it to her unwrapped - it just wasn't fair, poor little thing :(. Lunch went well in the end and the deserts were yummy - well Mum, Abbie and I thought so! Only Abbie really tried anything new, but P had bought a chocolate trifle (he doesn't like nuts), so they had that mostly.

After then meal, we finished off the remains of what was currenty wrapped and then spent the rest of the evening
Wii-ing! It's going to be a challenge to keep it fair. I think I'm going to have to invest in more controllers - or they are! Mum of course was asleep in the chair by this point and tuned out to the rest of the happenings of the day :( Nasty person that I am though - I actually woke her to ask her to help wash up - she wouldn't have offered because she was too tired (her own fault) and I don't feel it is fair for her to treat our home like a hotel and us like her hand-maidens - which she would have done had I not asked! Went to bed at 1am (back to small hours) once some tidying up was done and we had had a little go on the Wii ourselves! Not sure why I went to bed so late though - I was dead at about 7! Stupidity I think - and the knowledge that I didn't have to get up for any reason at all the next day!! Mum was wrapping the rest of her presents when we went up - seems she stayed up till 5am again!

Boxing Day & today - Like I said - nothing to get up for - so we didn't! Mum was up anyway - mad woman!! P made bacon butties and fried potatoes, with the left over roasties, for breakfast - yummy! The rest of the day was spent hanging out and mostly playing on the Wii. Abs & I had a go with her new Paper FX and made a coaster, but it was VERY fiddly. J1, J2, A, P and I had a game of Carcassonne which J1 won at the very end - much to his delighted surprise :) Jake and I then escaped into the kitchen before lunch to make Chocolate Sauce Pudding (cake) - which had 250g of plain chocolate in and was like a cross between a steam sponge pudding and a souffle - it was divine! Surprise - everyone ate that :) It was the most difficult to make so I am glad it was Jake I made it with and I am glad we made it on boxing day. Definitely one for the traditions list :) Lunch itself was home-made carrot and coriander soup and chunky tiger bread - keeping it light to keep room for all the scrummy puddings that needed to get eaten! After lunch we did open the rest of Mum's pressies which included Ticket To Ride (Europe) for the older 3. So, when everyone else had gone to bed, P, myself and Jacob stayed up and played that until about 10pm. Jake then crawled up to bed, leaving P & I to play two games of Carcassonne until about 1.30am - P won all the games, he always does!! Mum had gone to a friend's for coffee - she came home as we were finishing the second game! She had, however, promised to do the tea-time washing up, so we had left it for her! Then she declared that she couldn't find her car keys (she had borrowed P's set for her car to go out), so I ended up staying up even later to help her look for them, but to no avail (they turned up this morning thankfully). So she went to bed, but I took one look around me and decided enough was enough. I didn't want to get up in the morning to a tip again, so I spent a while tidying - meaning I went to bed at 5am - again. I really must stop behaving like an owl, I know it's not good for me, but luckily I didn't have to get up again today and I didn't actually wake up until gone 10am, so I was ok today.

Today the kids have spent most of day
Wii-ing again - with varying degrees of loud, stroppiness. Boo has spent much of the day bursting into tears and screeching at people - a sure sign of over tiredness in her. She tried to do another FX coaster, but it was simply too frustrating for her today :( I sent her to bed to nap, but she couldn't get to sleep. She said the house was too noisy, which it probably was in all honesty and her MP3 player ran out of charge - typical, so she got up again and promised to try to count to 10 before she snapped at people or cried!! :( After lunch P took the explosive ones (J2, A, P, E & C) to the park for a run around. N was asleep & J1 had his mate over, so they were fine. The park did seem to do the trick for the most part and all were much calmer (and colder!) on return. I, in the meantime, had a lovely shower and got dressed!!

In regards to the
Wii - I can see I am going to have to come down hard next week on SASS time, but for now, ahhh - it's Christmas!! But it's so much harder to make it fair when the rules are not in place ;)

Mum has gone now - won't see her now until 2009. I have really struggled to have her here this year; she watches the children's every little move. She does it ordinarily anyway and it always irritates me, but at Christmas it annoys me even more. I somehow think that at Christmas, within reason, the kids set the rules. It is the only time of year when there aren't many really important things that have to happen; There are no bedtimes as such - that just happens when it happens, there is no set order for things to occur in - we just go with the flow and do what works best for the day, there are no 'only one thing out at a time' rules, there are no 'no excessive mess' rules, there are no rules about HOW toys should be played with, etc... Yet on all these counts my Mum had something to say. For example, N's new indoor trike
(from ELC) has a little 'wagon' on the back and on one instance C was taking a little ride in it around the lounge. C is the lightest little snip of a boy and would do it no harm, but Mum had to be on to him immediately - "don't do that, you're gonna break it, it's not made for that, it's not strong enough, get out of it..." - I was sat on the sofa watching him too, but she hadn't seemed to notice that fact!! I argued his corner and she got in a huff with me, saying I didn't care how they treated their toys etc... Now if only I didn't care as much as I do - maybe we would have a few less (and a few more would get tossed away), but this is simply NOT true - I could just see that he wasn't doing any harm and chose not to tell him to play differently. On so many occasions Mum was over-poweringly controlling of the kids this year - and it got on my nerves more than it might, maybe because she presumed to do it right under our noses, as if she was subconsciously criticising our parenting styles - which to be honest, at Christmas we do chose to relax right down, but that is our CHOICE, not our default status!! That said, even when we are in 'normal' mode we try not to control the childrens' normal childish ways, thoughts, play, etc, (well not tooo much anyway) in the way that she would - and this Christmas it really stood out - maybe because she hadn't hardly slept for 3 days and prior to that had shopped like a mad woman and hence was completely done-in and therefore not able to control herself very well. But all the same - it spoiled the atmosphere for me and set me on edge more than I'd have liked. P & I have decided we are going to ask her to spend Christmas at my Aunty's next year - we need a year off from her I think. She drives us both doo-lally!!

Oh look - it's already 1am - and I have washing up to do - sigh - when will I learn!! It has taken me over 2 hours to write all this - I hope it doesn't take you as long to read it - that's if you still are, which I doubt!! I have to remind myself that this is my diary-in-effect and, as such, my posts can be as long as I like. Reading it is optional -writing it is not!! :)

Merry Christmas everyone!

1 comment:

Nic said...

Merry Christmas :) Sounds like there were plenty of lovely bits inbetween all the bits that made you 'grrr'.
One of the things that irritates me most with my older generation of family members is their intolerance of the children being children.
Chocolate sauce cake sounds delicious.