rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
My youngest brother arrived Christmas Eve and was drawn into a conversation with Charles about Transformers before he even put his bag down.

Finding all the presents I'd hidden as I bought them over the past half year, working out what was for who and whether there was a reasonable balance between the children.  Then wrapping them all.  I had managed not to go as overboard as in some previous years, but wrapping still took far too long, even with Tony's help towards the end.

Failing to wake Nico for the evening meal after he'd nodded off with his uncles earlier in the day.  Being interrupted about an hour after the meal by a furious and tired Nico, and spending some interminable period trying to help him through the meltdown enough to try the merits of warm milk and a cuddle.  And then staying up with him until after midnight because Christmas is too exciting!

Tony tweeting: "Father Christmas brought me four packs of coffee and a book of Cambridge barber shop tales. What is he trying to suggest?!"  (It is an open secret to everyone but Nico that I am Santa in this house.)

Calling Charles away from Minecraft to ask if he would like sparkling orange juice for elevenses like the rest of us.  He walked right up to me, paused significantly, and said "No."
"How about salmon on bread?"
"How about opening your presents?"

Opening presents together: 4 adults, 2 children, approx 90% of the gifts by volume for the children.  So much fun.

Lovely food by Tony.  Pulling handmade crackers from my aunt as we all sat around the table.

Remembering that I took my last (ever, I sincerely hope!) ATRA dose last Christmas Eve.

Taking a little walk around my local streets in the evening to stretch my legs, and enjoying the variety of decorations on display.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Three years ago I bought us a new artificial tree, and spent a Saturday afternoon in bed gestating, while Tony and Charles assembled and decorated the tree.

A year later, Charles did the tree mostly by himself and roped Tony in to help, while I looked after 6-month-old Nico.

Last year, we opted not to try for the tree at all, given how mobile and unreasonable our 18-month-old toddler was.

This year, Charles helpfully pointed out that if we waited until 1st December we would be rushed because it was a schoolnight, and therefore it would be much more sensible to put the tree up today. This time we included Nico until his "help" became too difficult for Charles to handle, and I took Nico off elsewhere to distract him while Tony and Charles decorated the tree.

So far, Nico is being fairly sensible around it, but presents are still going behind the fireguard to reduce temptation.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
We put up the Christmas tree on Sunday. It is our second year with it: last year it was Tony and Charles putting it up while I was in bed with pregnancy nausea. This year, Charles put together at least half of it while I vaguely supervised & did the household accounts, Nicholas dozed on me, and Tony cooked. Tony then came and helped Charles finish off and they did the lights, baubles and tinsel together.

Charles was keen to pose for a photo:
Charles & the Christmas tree

Last week I woke up one morning and it was unusually cold in the house. I went to find the wireless thermostat and discovered the batteries in it had died. The heating works by the thermostat telling the boiler to switch on the radiators if the house is below the set temperature. No batteries meant no instructions meant no radiators on. The batteries in the thermostat are rechargeable, but while they charged I raided the tv remote for batteries to get the heating on again, and realised I was effectively moving batteries from one remote control to another. The thermostat read 17 C when I first got the batteries in, which is Too Cold For Me, yes even with a jumper on.

Cannibalising tv remote to power heating remote
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
See poll here. I'm hoping to get the last cards out tomorrow and will tot up & make the charity donations on the 24th.
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
The first cards of the year have been arriving with us, and for once I may be prepared enough to send cards to other people. If you want to send us a card, my contact details are here. If you want a card from us, and think I may not have your address, please leave it in a comment. (Comments are screened - I'll unscreen those that don't contain personal addresses.)

Alternatively! If you would rather avoid the exchange of seasonal paper-based products, I am going to borrow [personal profile] nanila's idea, and donate £1.50 per person who ticks the poll, split among the three charities I've chosen, following the direction you give in the poll. (So if you tick 1, they get £1.50, if you tick 2, they get 75p each, if you tick all 3, they get 50p each).

If you don't have a Dreamwidth or OpenID account to enter the poll, leave a comment with your selection(s) and an indication of your identity. I'll leave those screened too.

My chosen charities are:

1. Schistosomiasis Control Initiative which, despite being nearly unspellable and unpronouncable unless you shorten to SCI, is a very cost-effective way to tackle poverty and reduced lifechances around the world.

2. Practical Action who work with poor people around the world to find appropriate technological solutions to problems facing them and keeping them in poverty.

3. Education For Choice who work to provide young people, primarily in the UK, with accurate, evidence-based information on abortion.

Reciprocal donations/cards are nice but not obligatory.

Poll #8695 Christmas cards and seasonal giving
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 11

Instead of a Christmas card, I would like Rachel to donate money to

View Answers

6 (66.7%)

Practical Action
7 (77.8%)

Education For Choice
5 (55.6%)

Christmas cards ...

View Answers

Are great! Please send me one!
3 (50.0%)

Are ok I guess
0 (0.0%)

Are a waste of resources
2 (33.3%)

Other (please expand in comments)
1 (16.7%)

Christmas letters ...

View Answers

Are lovely! I like knowing what you've been up to
4 (80.0%)

Are ok, can be a bit formulaic
1 (20.0%)

Are a terrible example of middle-class oneupmanship
0 (0.0%)

Other (please expand in comments)
1 (20.0%)

Your essay crisis is over isn't it?
4 (80.0%)

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
We can just about see the tiny tree behind the giant pile of presents:

Christmas tree and presents

I approve of Charles's colour scheme for stockings:

Charles's stocking

Matt is here; Louise is safely dispatched to High Wycombe; stockings are prepped and food is in, and we're all set for tomorrow. Carols from Kings is on the tv and Charles occasionally paying it some attention.
rmc28: (smile)
Or so said Charles to me today. He has just one door left to open on the advent calendar. We borrowed an idea from [personal profile] ailbhe and tried decluttering an item each day, one item from each of us. This worked for a while and then was quietly dropped when we missed a few days in a row. But even so, we sent several carrier bags to the charity shop, so I feel it was worthwhile and worth trying again more seriously next year.

The (small) tree is nearly obscured by the pile of presents. All our presents to others have been posted out or otherwise delivered. Tony has got the lamb and salmon and other essentials in and I will be getting the last of the supplies for stockings[1] tomorrow along with a few other errands. My youngest brother will be joining us tomorrow, and there is a very small chance my oldest brother will come up too, though I am not counting on it.

[1] Everyone sleeping in my house on Christmas Eve gets a stocking in the morning.

Tony's mother arrived here on Sunday after a slightly epic journey involving a cancelled flight, Eurostar tickets selling out under our noses, a hastily-arranged overnight stay in Paris and then lengthy delays on Eurostar the next day (but compensation should result, hurrah). She and Charles have had lots of time together and Charles got his present from her early: a Woody doll to match the Buzz he got for his birthday. She departs tomorrow to spend Christmas with Tony's sister and will come back to us in a few days to stay the night before going home.

We are supposed to be making a dash to Leeds on Boxing Day to see my mother and stepfather, but only if I feel safe to drive on the day; otherwise we will have to postpone as there are no trains until Monday.

It has been really lovely to be at home this week with my family. The days have rather slid by without much of note being done, but sometimes it is good to just be restful together.
rmc28: (finches)
Very lovely, easy and gentle Christmas together.  Charles and I got up for the family service at church, where lots of people cooed at him and he cried during the sermon.  I tried to feed him in the seat, he wasn't having it, I took him quickly into the entrance area, at which point he settled right down and fed to sleep.  I went back in during the sharing of the peace.  We got home to find Tony still in bed, so went back to bed until about noon.  Then we all got up, Tony started cooking and we made phone calls to family and listened to amusing radio while sipping bucks fizz and eating smoked salmon on bread.

The potatoes caused delay again, but I think we sat down around 3:30 or 4.  Tony made fantastic roast leg of lamb, seasoned with tarragon and with cloves of garlic embedded around the outside.   Accompanying we had potatoes, yorkshire puddings, buttered leeks, steamed spring greens, carrots and peas.  Gravy made with the juices of the lamb.  A lovely French red wine given to us by Claudia on her visit last week topped it off.  Charles sat in his chair burbling at us during most of it, and then took turns sitting on our laps while we ate seconds.

When we'd finished stuffing ourselves, we rewound Monsters Inc on the PVR and watched it from the beginning.  I saw it on cinema release but Tony hadn't seen it at all.  A lot of things we found particularly funny now we are parents and I was amused that one of our nicknames for Charles - Boo - is clearly a widespread baby nickname.  I also found myself assessing the unspoken assumptions and behaviours of the film for "do I want Charles to learn this?". He didn't seem that interested except when the music got particularly loud and exciting, as Tony (who was holding him most of the time) is far more interesting.

We finished the film in time to watch Doctor Who and then thought we ought to get around to opening the presents from friends and relatives.  Most of them were for Charles, who was actually far more fascinated by the process of tearing paper.  Tony shredded several pieces of wrapping paper for his entertainment once we'd realised this.  He's started pulling soft things near his hands into his mouth but isn't really very grabby yet, so the lovely noisy twist-and-turn rattle got ignored but the small noisy soft donkey got chewed. Most of what we were given for him needs to be put away for a while.  I think our favourite present is the shiny board book with pictures of babies.  We read it to him a couple of times and he seemed fascinated, though whether with the baby pictures or the shininess was not clear.

Tony and I bought each other a number of Ian Fleming novels and the corresponding Bond films.  The plan is to read the books and then watch the corresponding films together.  Tony started off by reading From Russia With Love when we were in France and is currently part way through Dr No.  I need to catch up.

After presents I made some more phone calls while Tony cleared up and then we both vegged for a bit before bedtime.   Charles protested even more than usual during and after his bath, and was fractious during the night, so I'm leaving Tony to sleep in for now.
rmc28: (wedding)
On Thursday night Sue and I decided to do a Christmas dinner yesterday, as she'll be spending Christmas Day in Heathrow airport.  We cheated hugely - she bought a pre-stuffed turkey joint from Iceland and I got ready-to-roast potatoes and precooked Yorkshire puddings from the Co-op.  I did at least chop and cook all the vegetables myself.  Nick C came up from London to catch up with her a bit, and crashed with us overnight.  I originally aimed for dinner on the table at 2pm but didn't get the turkey in early enough; I then rescheduled for 2:30 and had fun working out what needed to be cooked when, and it all went swimmingly apart from the potatoes failing to cook properly.  So we ended up eating it sometime after 3pm.  We were saved from hungry grumpiness by smoked salmon and bread nibbles served while dinner was cooking (a cunning trick I have learned from Tony's family), and in general the atmosphere was so relaxed that I refused to get bothered by producing dinner late.

After stuffing ourselves royally we sat and chattered until our bellies could cope with dessert and then returned to the table for mince pies with custard and/or cream, and the cheese and pate platter.  After that we watched Bill Bailey: Part Troll (after which Sue went to bed) and The Transporter (after which the rest of us talked for a while and then went to bed).  We had Christmas lights on the tree and on the bookcases, and lit candles.  In total 3 bottles of red wine were consumed by the four of us during the afternoon and evening, and a small amount of port.  It was a lovely day.

This morning Sue finished packing and was collected by a taxi at 1pm.  Tony went with her to the bus to help her load her baggage on board.  I'm going to miss her hugely, and it's unlikely she'll live with us again even if she returns to the UK.   She's been great company and so often helpful with Charles.  The house will not be the same without her.

This afternoon I have listened to 9 Lessons and Carols from King's and hung up all the Christmas cards.  There are presents under the tree (most of them for Charles) and we have everything we need for tomorrow.  Keith is filling the roof with new insulation before departing for his parents' house and Cat has already gone.  Just the three of us having our first Christmas together.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

September 2017

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