Let's see how far I can get with this post without mentioning the elephant in the room, shall we?!
We've had plenty to celebrate in December with the month kicking off with a special little lady's 4th birthday. How can Sophia be 4 already? She had a wonderful day, topped off with a tea party with her friends. The cake was a success this year too - a simple chocolate sponge with a Schleich unicorn on top. I learnt my lesson from her 3rd birthday, when I was far too ambitious with my cake baking dreams. A request for a pink, spotted dinosaur was made and I responded (failed) with a tenuous looking stegosaurus that looked like it had been smeared with Brussels paté. It tasted like death, as well. So this year, I took it all back to basics and it was very much a success - hurrah!
I think we were one of the only parts of the UK that escaped a deluge of snow during December, much to my children's disappointment. We had the freezing temperatures and the ice cold wind, but no more than a wee flurry of the white stuff materialised. We were quite excited at the possibility of being snowed in - after all, we'd stocked up on all the basic essentials: teabags, milk and candles. As long as the wifi didn't cut out we would be pretty much set to hunker down for a couple of days! Alas, it was not meant to be this time around. Sigh.
We headed to the Lincoln Christmas Market one evening, before it was subsequently cancelled due to the (nonexistent) snow. It was bloody freezing. I ate my way around, stopping for fudge, poffertjes, sweets etc. They had some lovely stalls with handcrafted goods, but my trio were most looking forward to the fairground rides. James and I had come prepared and remortgaged the house and sold our kidneys beforehand (okay, not really but it was bloody expensive, especially when you consider each £3 ride was multiplied by 3 kids!) and we thought the older two might like the dodgems or carousel and Sophia would enjoy the tame teacups. Wrong. Since when did my children turn into such adrenaline junkies? They went on rides I would never dream of going on - including Sophia. Little Miss was adamant she wanted to go on all the big rides with her siblings. The guy said if she was scared he would stop the ride so she could get off and he would refund our money, but guess what? Sophia whooped and screamed with joy louder than anyone else. Thrillseeker, for sure. She'll be bungee jumping by the time she's 7, given the chance!
The rest of the month basically consisted of eating. Dates at Wagamama, wine and tapas with my ladies, roast dinner at this country pub to celebrate my father-in-law's 70th birthday, brunch with friends, a trip to this Italian restaurant with extended family, drinks and nibbles with neighbours... and that was all pre-Christmas!
Ah, there we go. I've said it now.
Our Christmas was lovely and relaxed. I always find the days before so exciting as the children are still young. There's just something about all that magical anticipation that I'd love to bottle up and savour some more.
We are still a house of believers here at Casa Sharples. I live by the mantra of "if you don't believe, you don't receive" and have thus far refused to confirm or deny any speculation otherwise. Of course Freya "knows" - we've just never mentioned it. Reuben is on the cusp, I think. He wants to believe, but is far too clever for his own good, sometimes. We've had questions such as "how does Father Christmas know which houses are Muslim or Christian?" and wondering why we send gifts via Samaritan's Purse to underprivileged children instead of them receiving them direct from the Big Guy? Good questions, and ones I don't have quick answers for without poor Santa coming across as a discriminating b*stard!
Anyway. Our Christmas was just perfect. We spent it at home in jimamas (PJs, to those who don't speak Sophia language), building new toys and binge playing Bananagrams (bought for the children, but played more by us adults - it's just a *little* bit addictive...!). The only television we watched was the brilliant adaptation of David Walliams' Ratburger, and I prepared enough of a feast on Christmas Day to provide us with leftovers until 2024, at least. No cooking for me = win.
The period between Christmas and New Year passed by in a blissful haze of not being entirely sure of the day, or indeed the time. We squeezed tonnes of socialising in, hosting family on Boxing Day and then catching up with friends on the subsequent days. With our friends scattered across the country with busy lives, it's not always easy to synchronise diaries and as a result we'd not seen many of them for months. I particularly enjoyed meeting all the scrumptious newborns that had entered the world in the meantime! I had a lovely afternoon out with my Dad, ostensibly to check out the sales, but then came home with full priced items instead (oops!).
New Year's Eve, I'd booked tickets for us to go and see a production in the afternoon at the LPAC. The Winter Whale was a captivating and intimate show about brave adventures by two young explorers who became cast adrift at sea. Reuben and Sophia were spellbound by the performance - it really was magical. In the evening, we headed over to some friends for dinner, drinks and dancing and were home before the chimes at midnight. We let Reuben stay up to watch the spectacular fireworks over the Thames on television and then all headed to bed hoping for a lie-in on New Year's Day :)
January looks set to be an equally busy month with a little trip away, my birthday, and a soirée chez moi at the tail end.
Here's to 2018! Wishing you all much peace and happiness.