Blogmas Day 18.

I’m not a Lush person, generally speaking. I feel like when it comes to all things bath bomb you have to know your stuff. Well, I do not know any stuff but what I do know is that we, Ruth and I, love a good bath bomb and you can trust Lush to do a good bath bomb. We don’t get them often, mostly because I don’t go anywhere where there is a Lush very often anymore but since Ruth’s been interested she’s had them at Christmas time either for her Christmas Eve box or stocking or something. Last year she had the ‘Rainbow’ for the first time which was really cool.

When we were at the Trafford Centre recently, I popped into Lush and came out with a few festive bits. I wanted something nice for the cabin and thought a nice relaxing bath with a Christmassy bath bomb would be a nice treat.

One thing you can always count on with Lush is the most wonderful customer service. The staff greet you as you go in and are always so helpful. I’m not usually a fan of the ‘do you need any help with anything?’ question when I go into a shop. It makes me panic and can feel a bit intrusive but the Lush staff have just got such a friendly and approachable air about them I’m always grateful for their help and their infinite knowledge of the products they sell.

This occasion we were there was no exception. We had a member of staff help us who seemed to know exactly what we were looking for. So imagine Ruth’s face when they read her mind and then directed her towards the jelly bombs.

This is the Snow Fairy Jelly Bomb. While I can’t say this is my ideal bath accompaniment, the fact that it covers the bath with a layer of jelly/slime was the best thing Ruth had ever heard.

It’s a bright pink goo that smells delicious and Ruth was so impressed with. I don’t know what’s in it or anything but it was perfect for her!

I got a luxury lush pud and it smells amazing. I love all the colours swirl around in the bath (and I forgot to take a picture!). This is definitely my cup of tea. I’m not a ‘goo in the bath’ sort of person like Ruth! And, again this was kindly recommended by the staff member there.

I also picked up a Cheery Christmas for Ruth’s stocking which is beautiful and pink and she’ll love it and Butterbear for Bernadette because I can’t leave her out! I knew that one would be safe for babies but asked anyway to double check and sure enough they told me all about the baby friendly ones!

I love Christmas as much as the next guy but it’s not without it’s stresses and to do lists and rushing around so it’s perfect to get a little treat like this just to try and relax this time of year.

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Blogmas Day 17.

This year for a little Christmas getaway we decided to go back to Forest Holidays. We went in the summer to Sherwood Forest and this time went to the Forest of Dean so we could try another site. We loved it so much last time and we were looking forward to trying it at a different time of year. I’ve been collecting Christmas bits to take and do there for months now so we were properly prepared for Christmas time at the cabin.

We arrived and Ruth was pretty much straight in the hot tub, as she was last time! It’s actually something so nice about being outside in the hot tub when it’s dark and cold! I think I prefer it to last time! I’ll be honest and getting out again isn’t my favourite thing to do but it’s totally worth it!

Then, the strangest thing happened. While we were all outside greeting our friends who had arrived, someone came in and left some things under the tree! And we were the only cabin on site with a Christmas tree this weekend thanks to Jess!

How lucky were we that Father Christmas knew where we were and bought us some things for the weekend?! He got the girls matching pyjamas, matching reindeer antlers, matching Christmas build a bears and a whole host of other treats and goodies.

Once we had opened up our things, we watched some Christmas tele and then spent the weekend doing Christmas activities.

We made cakes and painted baubles and toasted marshmallows whilst wearing festive clothes listening to Christmas music and watching films.

It was a lovely a weekend. Nice and relaxing with wonderful company and enough Christmas to last till June.

It’s always so hard having such a nice weekend because I hate going back to reality and not seeing my friends for ages! But it makes a lovely weekend that much better because they were there too.

Blogmas Day 16.

Some of the most interesting observations I’ve made about Christmas have been since I’ve become a parent. For example, now that I’m a parent and it falls on me to produce Christmas (up to a certain point, obviously. Father Christmas has the rest covered) it makes me fully realise the extent my parents went to for us when we were kids. It also makes me think about how, looking back, the things I found most magical as a child weren’t the things that probably caused most stress. Now, I don’t mean that to sound ungrateful in anyway. My childhood Christmases were amazing. What I’m trying to say is when I think about my childhood perspective of it, perhaps parents can worry less because the magic that is looked at from a childlike perspective makes the most precious and candid memories.

You see the Christmas tree behind the T.V. in the photo at the top? Up until recently in my life, I would have told you it was a massive tree behind the tele and would have nearly touched the ceiling. Because that’s what I remember.

I remember seeing my Dad come upstairs one year with our pillowcases of presents to put at the foot of our beds because Father Christmas was running a bit late so my Dad helped him by delivering them for him.

I remember just not sleeping because we were so excited and having to check if my brothers were asleep yet.

I remember getting a Peter Rabbit pencil sharpener and an orange in my pillowcase one year and I thought it was the best thing ever.

I remember laughing at one of my brothers being so excited to open a Robot Wars arena toy that he peeled the box like an orange.

I remember that the other brother used to say ‘it wasn’t me, it was the Christmas tree’ to get out of trouble.

I remember getting a poetry book in a gift bag when we went to see Father Christmas in the Regent Arcade and my favourite poem was written from the perspective of a boy who would make sure everyone got a turn on the swings when he would be prime minister.

I remember putting birthday candles in a Christmas cake and singing ‘happy birthday’ to baby Jesus and singing ‘jingle bells’ with the patio door open so Father Christmas could hear!

As a parent now, I worry that my kids don’t have enough presents or that it’s not magical enough or even that this is my last Christmas where Ruth is young enough to still believe in it all. But the thing that I’m trying to (very clumsily) say is that, ultimately, none of that matters. It’s the unexpected traditions that evolve over the years (like having a McDonald’s on Christmas Eve which is something both my house and my parents house still do) and it’s the childlike perspective of everything that’s going on that can’t be planned that makes Christmas. I know that my parents worried about things like us not having enough and it surprises me because I remember all three of us getting the world every year. Whether that is accurate or not is irrelevant. It just highlights my point that the magic of Christmas is most memorable over everything.

I take comfort it that because while I try to think of everything like all parents, I can’t wait to hear about my girls’ Christmas memories of what they’ve found most special or most funny or most magical.

Blogmas Day 15.

I always said that if I had twins I’d dress them individually. Which I can absolutely confirm is not true in the slightest because now I have pretty much the opposite which is two girls that are seven years apart and I go to great lengths to get them to match!

I’ve been looking and looking for Christmas outfits for so long. It’s not as easy as you might think what with their ages being so different but now family matching outfits are quite popular I’ve been able to get some from that range.

These gorgeous tartan dresses are from Next. I got Ruth’s months ago so that it wouldn’t sell out and Bernadette’s the second I noticed her size come out!

These Grinch pyjamas are off eBay! The pattern is mismatched and odd and perfect!

The day I dressed them as Mrs Claus or the day they joined a convent of red nuns..?

These as a gift for the girls and they’re lovely. Ruth is very good and indulges me pretty much every time when I want her to dress up but she does appreciate having a ‘big girl’ version.

More matching pyjamas! These were from Home Bargains and what I didn’t notice before was that Bernadette’s baby grow had the pattern printed on the back of the baby grow and the poppers go up her back. So essentially it’s a back to front baby grow!

I’ve got a couple more matching outfits coming up for them. Poor things.

Blogmas Day 14.

Music is so emotive. From primary school assembly hymns to musical theatre, the top 10 to old Christmas classics there’s nothing like a good old sing song to warm the heart. I think this is more than true at Christmas time. There’s so many different Christmas carols and songs that bring back so many memories every year.

I wasn’t sure what to write for today’s post so it’s going to be a bit of a rambling about my memories of Christmas music.

For me, ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ will always remind me of my Uncle Fred singing it in his choir at their Christmas concert. I can remember my mum’s car being frozen every year when we came out it was that cold. ‘Away in the Manger’ reminds me of my Mum and ‘When a Child is Born’ reminds me of baby Ruth’s first Christmases when I’d sing it to her.

This year, I can’t listen to Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ without thinking of my brothers and how we tried the Whammaggedon challenge this year where you have to try and make it to Christmas Eve without hearing their song playing anywhere. I’m out. I had lost by about December 2nd!

I’ve heard brass bands playing carols this year already and there is something so festive about that sound, isn’t there? That, and the sound of a school nativity!

I’d be being dishonest if I didn’t mention good old Michael Bublé wouldn’t I?! You know it’s Christmas when his voice starts pouring out your speakers! I, obviously, have his Christmas album and the duet with Shania Twain is my favourite. I like to sing along while I’m in the car and pretend I sound just like her…

Ruth’s also been enjoying singing all her favourites again and Bernadette has been enjoying them to. I can’t decide what I like most; the cute little way Ruth will mishear the lyrics and come up with almost a brand new song or the joy in her discovering the hilarious ‘Batman smells’ alternative to Jingle Bells!

What Christmas song do you love at Christmas time?

Blogmas Day 13.

While my Dad was visiting we’d planned a trip to the Christmas markets in Manchester. Visiting the markets is an experience in itself but I must admit, there is one reason I love it so much.

This stall. It’s a charming little stall that sells wooden gifts and tree decorations. When you pick a decoration you can ask the lady, who is an expert at freehand pyrography, to add a name. I absolutely love everything she sells. There are so many shapes to choose from and something so beautiful about the fact that each one is a little bit different. Ruth was the first one to get one of these. Her Grandma gave her an angel with her name on, I think, that was in 2012. Since then we have all got one. A different shape each and each year I love buying them. There was a year when I couldn’t buy one as I had run out of people to buy one for!

She will write more than a name and asks for a donation in the charity pot for adding more on. I got one for the year we were married and last year got a ‘Baby Done July 2018’ one but had to hang in high on the tree so Ruth didn’t see it because she didn’t know we were pregnant then!

While we were at the markets I had a little panic that I couldn’t find the stall but it’s always on Albert Square (the bit with the Christmas Zippy watching over it). I got Bernadette a bear decoration as this week I discovered that Bernadette means ‘as brave as a bear’! I’m so happy with our collection of them now. I’m going to have to have a good think this year about what I can get ready for next year!

After here we got some lunch and did some shopping. Bernadette was good as good and slept all day! Being awake all night is taking its toll on her it would appear! She had her first train ride but was completely oblivious. When we were in the Northern Quarter I couldn’t resist a photo with a bee!

Blogmas Day 12.

Bernadette went to her playgroup Christmas party yesterday. We’ve been going to the playgroup at Ruth’s school since October time and to end the term, the party was at the soft play centre.

Bernadette and Clementine came in their matching Christmas outfits. I dare say the best friend twinning is something that is set to continue for as long as we can get away with it!

She then went in a jumperoo for the first time ever as she’s supposed to avoid them because of her hips but it can get any worse can it?! Look at her with her angel of a big cousin!

Then they had some party food, she even had some like a big girl and a visit from the big man himself. He came up to the party area where all the children were waiting and he rang the bells. Bernadette slept through it.

She woke up shortly after Father Christmas had left and we totally opened her present while she was snoozing!

All in all, we enjoyed it. It was nice to do a Christmas thing for Bernadette and not worry about feeling guilty that Ruth’s too old or doesn’t feel like she’s getting the same thing. I honestly can’t believe it’s so close to Christmas now. I’m getting more and more excited!