So this is Christmas


It’s fair to say this has been a Christmas of extremes. At one extreme has been the absolute wonder that only kids can bring. This year, more than any we’ve had so far, Heather gets the whole thing. And that’s rubbed off on Megan too, meaning we’ve had two very excited girls for weeks and weeks.

And Christmas Day itself certainly didn’t disappoint. The girls had a great time opening their presents (Megan more interested in removing the wrapping than the contents) and we had a wonderful dinner with my lot, minus my brother-in-law who sadly had to work. It was after midnight before my Mum and Dad left us, rounding off a wonderful day that was definitely one of the best ever.

So that was the good. But there’s been bad too. We’ve all had the dreaded Norovirus to varying degrees, with poor Megan being the worst. She’s had not one but two relapses, twice throwing up just when we thought she was back to normal. And the icing on the cake? Heather is now on a course of antibiotics to help her fight the tonsilitis she’s come down with in the last 24 hours.

Merry Christmas to us!

Here’s hoping the new year starts more healthily than this one has finished. I doubt it could get much worse.

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Let me sleep (it’s Christmas time)

I’m not sure why it took me so long to pay attention to the BritMums festive playlist linky, I’m just glad I spotted it in time to take part.

The format here is pretty straightforward – pick (at least) five festive songs and explain why I love them. Given that a week or so ago we spent a night building a spreadsheet whilst trying to decide which Christmas album to buy (Heather insisted on Christmas music in the car) and have been listening to Christmas music at home pretty much ever since, it shouldn’t be that hard to do, right?

There are, of course, plenty of very obvious songs I could include here. But where’s the fun in that – everyone’s already heard Slade, Band Aid, Wizzard and the Pogues (feat Kirsty McColl) more times than they probably care to mention. So, instead, I present here a bunch of less well-known Christmas songs which are floating my boat this festive season.

1. Pearl Jam – Let Me Sleep
Lifted from a 1991 fan club single, this anti-festive ditty is actually quite nostalgic at its heart. When you were a kid there really was something magical about Christmas, and now I’m getting to see that all over again, through the girls’ eyes.

2. Noel Gallagher – Merry Christmas Everybody
I’m pretty sure this was recorded for a Royle Family Christmas special back in the late 90s. I’m also sure my dad hated it when I played it, because it’s a bit more melancholy than the Slade original. But that’s its charm!

3. Manic Street Preachers – Ghost of Christmas
Another nostalgic one this, and one I suspect the Manics would never have dreamed of recording at their outset. I mean, it’s got saxophone and everything! No idea where the visuals in the below clip come from btw, pretty sure they’re nothing to do with the song itself.

4. Geraldine McQueen – Once Upon a Christmas Song
Is this obvious? I don’t know, but Peter Kay’s Christmas parody is certainly not one you’ll find on any commercial Christmas compilation, that’s for sure. Which is a shame, because it’s actually a decent tune, and one which definitely gets stuck in my head every time I hear it.

Bonus fact: I once saw Conleth Hill, the actor who played Geraldine’s mum on TV, in a Russian play about a suicide. He was very good, as was the play.

5. Lou Monte – Dominick the Donkey
Anyone who listened to the Chris Moyles Show will know this one, as it got played to death, in honour of newsreader Dominic Byrne. I think it might even have got into the Christmas charts a couple of years ago, presumably around the time we bought it. The only other time I’ve seen/heard it mentioned was by my cousin last year, just after he’d moved to New York, questioning if it was a real thing!

And speaking of the Real Thing (see what I did there?) this linky is all in aid of promoting Coca Cola’s Designated Driver programme, which you can find out more about by clicking on the link below.

Update: Only after I’d posted this did I discover Chris T-T has recorded a Christmas EP. I’ve seen Chris a few times now, and have written¬†about how his brilliant Disobedience album inspired me to read AA Milne to Heather, so I’ll definitely be picking this new EP up. I’m pretty sure it would have made this list, had I done so in time!

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

The 12 dads of Christmas

When Ben (aka The Fool) contacted me a couple of weeks ago asking if I’d be part of a video project he was embarking on, I agreed in an instant, without knowing what was involved. Only after I’d signed up did he reveal that the video I’d to produce involved singing. Hmmmmm… not my strongest talent, but by this time I was signed up – what could I do?

Of course I’ve been found exercising my vocal chords on YouTube before; sadly, though, my rousing rendition of Flower of Scotland (before a match at Hampden) is no longer available, or I’d have it linked here. No, really!

Anyhow, Ben’s idea was to get 12 dads singing The 12 Days of Christmas. Each of us were given a different verse to sing, and a deadline to get our video back to Ben. Easy peasy. I waited until our tree was up, just to give proceedings a festive backdrop, and then in literally 4 takes it was done. How professional!

The final result is (hopefully) embedded below for your amusement and delight. I’m absolutely thrilled with the result, as was Heather when she spotted me on YouTube. Imagine – Daddy appearing on her beloved YouTube. I think a small part of her mind might actually have been blown.

My only criticism of the whole thing is aimed squarely at myself. Next time I’ll make sure to have a light or two on, so I can actually be seen – the shadowy air of mystery I’ve ended up with wasn’t intentional!

Now, all we have to do is sit back and wait for Mr Cowell’s call, for fame and fortune surely beckon?

You can read Ben’s blog post about the project, including a list of everyone involved, here. Thanks to Ben and all the other dads for creating something truly… special :)

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!

Ain’t no birthday like a princess birthday

H opening presentsThis past weekend we celebrated the fourth anniversary of our lives changing forever, when we became parents for the first time. And to prove it, I’m absolutely knackered. What a weekend!

I had the day off for Heather’s birthday itself, which was obviously good, although far from relaxing. The day began with a very important task: opening presents. Megan, somewhat predictably, got upset that she didn’t have the same pile of stuff to unwrap. Very hard to explain to someone who’s not yet two though, despite her apparent ability to understand every word anyone says to her.

Heather was suitably thrilled with everything she opened, and even hugged one or two of the boxes which was absolutely adorable. But there was no time to play with anything, because we had a Disney Store shopping spree to go on, courtesy of Nana and Grandad.

And how impressed were we with those nice Disney Store folks? As she handed over the money for her loot, Heather mentioned that it was her birthday. “Really? And what age are you? And what’s your name?” were the responses, after which we were sent over to the video wall for a special on-screen birthday message, accompanied by projected fireworks all around the store. I think Heather struggled to take it all in – I can’t honestly remember the last time I saw her so quiet and still (awake anyway) but she definitely enjoyed it.

H birthday message

And something to remember for the future – birthday people get to open the Disney Store with a special giant key, if they’re there a opening time (presumably requires prior arrangement?)

After that it was home for lunch and an afternoon at nursery, where everyone got to enjoy some birthday cake. It must have been good, because there were no leftovers. At least, none that came our way…

Final treat of the day was dinner at Pizza Hut. It should be stressed that this was 100% Heather’s choice – Gem and me had been campaigning for a visit to Equi’s, our local award-winning ice-cream parlour and chip shop, but Heather was adamant that Pizza Hut was where she wanted to go (“it’s my favourite!”) so that’s where we went. And a good meal was had by all.

So that was her birthday itself. The rest of the weekend was similarly busy, with a Christmas party on Saturday, and then a Princess Party at our house (activities: pizza topping, crown making and various party games) on Sunday. Honestly, sometimes I think our 4 year old has a better social life than we do!

To be honest, I’m still finding it hard to believe that we now have a 4 year old. No longer are we the parents of two toddlers – Heather is very definitely a little girl now. And weirdly, in the few days since she turned 4, she’s actually seemed older. I remember growing up being asked how it felt to be a new age, and answering that it was good, but really not feeling any different at all. But Heather somehow DOES seem different, dramatically so. Maybe it’s the curls in her hair, or maybe it’s because she feels different. I don’t know.

H in her Belle dress

What I do know is that she’ll be starting school in about 8 months time, and things are really going to change then. What happened to my baby?

This autumn I'm running/cycling in a 30km duathlon and a half marathon, to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign. You can read more about my challenge here or support me here. All donations, however big or small, gratefully received!