Monday, 31 December 2007

Some Quiet Time Together.

Sorry if things have been a bit quiet around here lately. We're just enjoying not having to rush out the door every morning, not having to be in the car. Movies, games, playing, reading, eating. Hanging out with friends. And family.

Fun and Games.

Some little things we've been up to over the holiday. This is great! Throw the dice and, on the spot, make up a story from the little pictures. Great fun, and even better if there's a couple of competative people involved! Check out Rory's Story Cubes.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Holiday Snaps.

Some photo's from my parents house.

I just love these nutcrackers. The Little One in particular is fascinated with them. This is the first year he remembered the various stories we read over the holiday. And his eyes were agog at the story of The Nutcracker, after which he took these guys down again and had a whole little story going. No camera that day, oh well.



This is the Fairy Tree. It's the first thing you see when you enter their house at this time of year. It's just beautiful.

Family Walk.

Every year, on St. Stephen's Day, the day after all the indulgence, and the presents, and the food and drink, the whole family, whoever happens to be still there in my parents, goes for a walk up Killiney Hill. The day was mild, but the wind at the top of the hill was cutting. It certainly blew away the cobwebs.















It was a bit too long for some.

On Christmas Day In The Morning.

Merry Christmas one and all. Hope yours was as spectacular as ours. Perfect.







Last Days of Shopping.

Here's some photo's taken over the last few days, beginning on Christmas Eve.

At last, a final, and nicely relaxed day to finish shopping.







Sunday, 23 December 2007

Happy Solstice.

On Friday, the last day of school, the shortest day of the year, we went 'down the town' in Bray, for a look around and to see the lights. We made our way to the christmas market which sadly did not live up to it's 'spectacular' promise. (Surprise surprise...) It was very flat. But The Little One was happy to sit on the carousel and be pushed around by some older girls who got tired of waiting for the guy to come back.



We finished off with fish and chips in Malloy's. A place where the food is ok but the friendliness of the owners make it worth the occasional visit. And no visit would be complete without a take-away from the bakery on our way home. Meringues, iced buns, mince pies, and of course, gingerbread men!



And so the holidays begin.

Friday, 21 December 2007

More More More!

So much to do, SO LITTLE TIME!

Doing it his Way.

This is what I saw when I had to stop, again, for the fiftieth time, to wait for him. I reckon if you're going to bring a four year old shopping twice in four days, you do it at his pace!

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

My Remedy.

Driving through Glen of the Downs this morning was a heavenly experience. There is something about the way the low winter light collides with the bare winter trees. Everything just seems to be effused with golden pinkness. It was like a haze that drifted overhead, oblivious to the great river of traffic below, as we snaked through the valley. We are so blessed to be surrounded by such an abundance of beautiful, broad-leaf, native trees.
On our journey this morning I kept seeing magical photo opportunities that I had to let go of. The morning madness is reaching fever pitch. Only two more days to go.
But: everyday I get to drive through somewhere like Glen of the Downs, or Delgany valley, and be submerged in whatever show the light or weather has to decided to put on that day. Or I can experience the feeling that grips you when, driving along, suddenly, in the distance, you catch a glimpse of sunlight on water. The magic may flash by some days, but it's always there.



Walking up the avenue at Avoca.

Time Out.

These beautiful crisp mornings are a great remedy for the madness that is my life at the moment. In spite of our fairly low key christmas coming up, I can't believe how much I end up doing. So in the midst of all the madness and to-do lists I took the opportunity to take some time out with Sweet William this morning and head to Avoca with Lisa and baby Joe, for some senses therapy.
I even decided to not have my religious bowl of fruit salad, and actually eat, rather than look at their cakes. Too delicious. Really too delicious. I reckon that's me for another six months. In my book their salads are the right kind of delicious.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Little Shopper.

They were getting anxious. Eager to put some presents under the tree. So we headed up to Dundrum and they did some christmas shopping. I have to say that once again, having had quite a few conversations recently with other mothers, I am so proud and impressed at how modest their wish-lists are.

I promised The Little One he could see the fountain all lit up.



And he did.

Perfect December Morning.

I do get envious when I read blogs by people who are having snow at the moment. It's been an ambition since childhood to have a white christmas some year. Somewhere. But waking up to a morning like this makes up for it in some way.

Yes, I did take a rather long way home this morning!





Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...At Last.

Yes. At last, we got our tree today. Those darling kiddies were so patient. I think this is the latest we have ever waited. So we set off to The National Garden Exhibition Centre, which is a favourite of ours. What is it about garden centres that are just so much fun! Although this is a special one. We didn't go into the actual gardens today as they were too set on the whole tree business. Santa was paying a visit when we got there, much to their delight. I just love how magical it is at The Little One's's age. He gets all bashful and wide-eyed. At the school fair last weekend as we waited to go in I asked him what he would tell Santa when asked what he wanted. Well, the look I got! (I'm not sure if it was scorn or disbelief.) "But he KNOWS what I want!" (Tut). Though he never twigged that it was our good friend Tim behind the beard on that occasion.
However, I digress.

They took their goodie bags outside and had a run around in the freezing cold, flying from one thing to another. The place is crammed with life-size animals, statues, fountains, hidey-holes, hot-tubs, wooden chalets, and of course rows and rows and rows of plants and trees. They found a warm spot to guzzle the goodies!



We trooped inside for some apple pie and hot chocolate to warm us up. Picked up some presents and then, at last, at last the tree! Oh, the excitement!






So, the tree is now in it's corner in the sitting room, half dressed. We discovered we need some new lights!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Lovely Things.

I love it, every year, when the boxes are opened and all the glittery lovely-ness gets pulled out and some of it is lovingly familiar, and some of it forgotten and now lovingly remembered again. We all have our favourite's that we dive for and bags to put up. We usually let the kids decorate the tree, but Jay gets to put the star on top, and my favourite is tying red satin ribbons on the ends of the branches.

Aren't these just dotey! A woman who lives around here make them every christmas, along with other Steiner inspired crafts. To me they embody the spirit of this holiday season.



This is a little curio I found loose in a book. I don't know what it is about it that I just love. It must be an illustration from some other story. I'd love to find out from what though.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Bird Tree.

Here's a shot Jay took while away. Isn't this great! The birds are stuffed!

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Music To My Ears.

At last we are home, the house is warmed up and though it's upside down and most of the decorations are still in the boxes, and we are just getting through the week and waiting for Friday to come around, at least we are doing it together. The to-do list is considerably shorter than it was, the christmas preparations are being simplified by the day, and I'm trying not to think about it too much when, every morning, Ru asks me, again, " how many days?" It doesn't really matter after a certain point what gets done and what doesn't, so long as we have the kids, very modest, expectations of a bit of magic covered. There will be plenty of years to follow when things are a bit less hectic, to have the perfect christmas I dream of.

So, even though the house still needs a lot of TLC and christmas-ifying, we have plenty of music to get our spirits in the mood. Yes, occasionally I will allow a bit of pop-style xmas music in the car, but in the house we are grooving to A Charlie Brown Christmas for a bit of jazz-ness and nostalgia. Sufjan Stevens is still AWOL, but will no doubt be unearthed in the next few days. Some Beach Boys would complete the mood I think...





A favourite daily treat of mine is John Kelly's programme on Lyric FM which coincides nicely with pick-up time. It's so nice to have my often obscure music taste covered on daytime radio and not on the 'graveyard shift'. Pity it's only two hours though. Anyway, every so often he plays something that just stops me in my tracks. The other day it was a beautiful, haunting song called 'Get 'way from my window', from an album called 'I wonder as I wander', by a man called John Jacob Niles who I can't believe I haven't heard before now. He seems to have influenced a whole lot of people. You can really hear Tim and Jeff Buckley in particular. So, this is my anti-dote when the christmas-ness gets a bit much!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Back Together.

So, at last, Jay is back on Irish soil. Our little family is one again. So things will be back to normal once more and that means daily updates too. Heading out now to pick him up which is great as he'll be there when they get home from school. Raaay!

Saturday, 8 December 2007

And So It Begins.

In the end, once the kids realised that we would only be putting up some decorations if they came home, and that Grandad would be putting up the tree in their house, you can guess what they opted for... So here I am in our cold and quiet house not really feeling very christmassy. In spite of the music. I pulled out the boxes of decorations, the books, the cd's, and went looking for Sufjan Stevens Christmas box set from last year. Nowhere to be found. Hmmm... I am now looking at about eight hundred cd's on the shelf in front of me... I think that's another day's job. In the meantime, I am LOVING, again, A Charlie Brown Christmas.

By now you know I love Avoca. Yes I do. And especially at Christmas they are a feast for the eyes and senses. Last year we had Barbie on the top of our tree. Yes I know. She did look quite nice in her Anastasia Russian red velvet dress. However.
So I was thrilled when this lovely star called my name in Avoca recently. It will be crowning our tree in all it's folky beauty this year.



Now I know these are not particularly festive but aren't they gorgeous? They each have one of those accordian balls that open out, (see the cat). I'm trying to think up some way of putting them into something more permanent.

Steadfast.

I named this little stuffed Jay-bear 'Steadfast'. Because he is. And it's when he's away that I realise just how apt that name is. We are not a complete unit when he's gone, and our little family is in animated suspended animation until he returns. And when he returns it is to familiar chaos and bedtime stories, the morning rush and walks on the beach, midnight musical beds and getting dinner on the table, doing frustrated homework, and, at the end of the week, finally, lining up on the friday night movie couch with a bag of liquorice allsorts and a bowl of popcorn. And never a single complaint. He really is.

Who Is Small Family?

Aha. It has been brought to my attention that I did not explain properly the Small Family. They are the first in a series I am making. Basically, it's me, Jay and the kids. We are joind together with poppers, and we will be sent off around the world to all our loved ones who we don't get to see often. I came up with the idea when our dear friends Marta and Sam were heading off to Argentina and I was trying to think of something to give them to take with them. In the end they weren't finished on time and are due to be posted.



So, the names on them are my interpretation of the essence of each person in our little family. First from the left is Jay a.k.a. 'Steadfast.' The name is fairly self explanatory though there is more to follow on that.
Next is me a.k.a. 'Lookaftering.' Again I don't think I need to explain it! I'm holding Billy, who is 'Sweet Pea". Really he's still figuring out who he is but that name just about sums him up.
Then it's Ru, who is 'Northern Summer'. This is from a line in a Vashti Bunyan song: 'Once I had a child, took his while like northern summer...' This sums him up perfectly, from the day he was born. Really.
Then it's Finn who's known as 'Little Bird'. Need I say more? From the time she was tiny you could always know where she was because you would hear her singing. Thanks to Jay's Mum, a.k.a. Nana Anne.
Then we have Edmund,'Sol'. He is Sunshine. He is.

The Festive Food Really Begins.

Well, as usual yesterday morning was babyday. It really is an excuse to eat all sorts of yummy things and it took no time for the festive food to creep in over the last few weeks. It's so lovely to take a little breather at the end of the week to sit in someone's cosy kitchen and talk. Not rush around, in and out of car, school, shops etc. We generally cover everything from parenting issues, recipes, books, (lots of that), local info, global issues, movies. You get the picture.



This group has been on-going since before I started going with Ru eleven years ago. It has changed over the years, obviously, as children grow up and go to school, new people join, old people come back. It's been a regular and important part of my life for as long as I've been a parent. And I've met some of the best people through it. A bunch of us who were there years ago still meet under the guise of a book club, though the books may get read, they don't get much air space in the ensuing conversation!



So here's to all the Mama's and Babies who have been there down the years. Joyful Festive eating to you all!
This weeks Pics are from Lucy's kitchen. Look at that stollen! Yum...

Friday, 7 December 2007

No Photo's!

SO sorry. I forgot my lead for the camera to download photos to Dad's computer. So, no photo's til tomorrow. First thing I promise.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Waiting...

For those of you that love Christmas, as I do, I'll be posting up a few favourite's of mine between now and Christmas. We decided to wait til Jay get's back to get our Christmas Tree, and I have to say the kids have been brilliant and patient about it. It feels like Christmas is on hold. We've been staying with my parents while he's gone, (Bless them!) and so our house is cold un-christmassy. We'll spend tomorrow starting the preparations by digging out the Christmas boxes, the winter books, all our favourite garlands and bauble's. So hopefully we'll have some festive photos tomorrow.

Na Preachan.

I went out last night. I met up with some very dear, old friends whom I hardly ever see any more. We sat around a table and we ate, and we talked and we laughed. And we sang.
I had forgotten how good it was to sing, so effortlessly, together. Despite us not being together as a group for quite a long while, I was so reassured when all it took was someone to start the first few notes of a song and off we went. We sang songs I thought I had forgotten, in languages I don't speak, in harmonies that make you shiver down your back.
So thank you Natalie, and Alice, and Anna, and Carmel, and Grainne, and Carmel, and Elaine. And Anita you were missed. Thank you, Na Preachan, for reminding me that ten years of friendship doesn't just go away through lack of seeing each other.

A Note From My Girl.



Why do you always ask me, to do things when I'm doing other things that you asked me to do, from FR.

Oh dear. This was left on the fridge door yesterday. See, this is when I realise that I'm not on top of things. It coincided with me realising that I haven't baked weekly bread since about two months before The Smallest was born. He is eight months old now... The problem is, my motto for the last good few years has been a quote from someone involved with the slow food movement : "If you don't have time in your day to make bread, there's something wrong." I reckon it's a good yardstick to have, to measure my life against. It made sense and fit into the way I did things.
So now I find myself without time to make bread, without time to notice I'm doing things like the above note accuses (with good reason) me of.
Time to take stock methinks!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Christmas Hat.

A little Christmas hat for Billy. I love this pattern. The last one I made for baby Joe is the same pattern, just extended into a point for a tassle.