So Grace is three years old and Daisy is six months old. This is the first year Grace has had any awareness of Santa Claus, and as predicted, she was not very keen. She had the opportunity of meeting him at the turning on of the Rottingdean lights, and after showing great enthusiasm initially, she soon changed her mind when we got near the grotto. I tried my best to cajoole her into going in with me. "Darling, Santa has a present for you" I said "Well he can bring it out here" was the swift response. When I told her the story of how Santa comes she made me call him and demand that he not enter her bedroom... A diva, just like her dad.
I had had visions of Daisy eating pureed Christmas dinner after a frenzy of excitable present opening by Grace (and me). Of course that never happened. We all caught flu for Christmas instead...
It all started on Christmas eve eve. I spent the whole day cleaning, changing sheets and making the house perfect for our Christmas guests. James braved Brighton mayhem to collect a turkey after the one he ordered from Allens of Mayfair failed to arrive. I suspected they would let us down so as a surprise I pre-ordered one from Waitrose too, so on the 23rd after Allens failed to deliver the goods I got to be all smug and save-the-day-ish with news of my second bird. ( Sadly, and without warning Allens delivered on Christmas eve instead - so we had two seven kilo turkeys sat in our porch which by that point we were too frail to lift, let alone cook and eat) .
So anyway, before all this happened James was battling with Brighton busyness and I was at home singing along to "Driving home for Christmas" as I dusted and bleached and scrubbed. I did feel more tired than normal when I finally sat down at about 6pm but did not have much time to think about it as we had the neighbours due for Christmas drinks, and unbeknown to them - to help me put together Grace's Early Learning Centre kitchen which had arrived earlier in the day with a 17 page instruction manual and various scary looking allen keys.
The plan was simple. I plied them with drink then mention how worried I was that I would not get time to put Grace's kitchen together before the morning. As planned, comments such as"Why not? It can't be that hard can it?" followed - at which point I bought out the manual, and more wine....
Four hours, five bottles and three sets of neighbours later the kitchen was complete and after my genius idea of a balloon blowing competition, everything was ready for Grace when she woke up - so you can imagine my disappointment when Grace surfaced in a hideous mood with a high temperature. She kicked all the balloons out the way, said "I don't like THAT kitchen" then collapsed on the sofa where she spent the rest of the day in and out of feverish sleep.
James' folks arrived full of Christmas cheer and a very special yuletide surprise in the form of Jodie who had come back from Oz for four days. I felt so ill and lightheaded that I thought I was hallucinating when I saw her, burst into uncontrollable tears and hid in James' armpit.
We spent Christmas morning in A&E getting steroids for Grace who had developed Croup and antibiotics for James who had caught a chest infection, then we crawled home to get into our sickbeds.
I was so upset about it all that the first thing I did when I felt well enough was take down the Christmas tree and sling it up the garden. (It was very heavy and landed with a very unsatisfying thud about three foot away).
In a very romantic effort to save salvage some festive cheer James booked us into a beautiful hotel in Amersham (where Four Weddings and a Funeral was filmed) for the New Year. I was hoping for lots of Hugh Grant impersonations from him to go with it but none happened. We did get lots of lovely naps in though which was perhaps the best Christmas present of all.
Daisy does not like sleeping very much, and if she does it has to be whilst breastfeeding in my arms in my bed. Those are the rules, and even then it's not a very long or deep sleep. My New Years resolution is to get her to sleep in her own cot in her own room with no breastfeeding. It's not going very well so far. She is upstairs howling as I type this and I have that horrible churning knot in my tummy that any parent who is trying the 'leaving them to cry' technique will know about.
Whilst 'leaving Daisy to cry' I have to obsessively talk about why I am doing it, spend the whole time she is crying either army-crawling up and down the stairs to check she is OK (which is pointless because her howling suggests she is fine and if I am going to spend the whole evening staring at her from a hiding place, I may as well just admit I have no life and go and sit with her instead) or googling various sleeping techniques for babies, desperate to find a pain-free solution.
I tried to get James a special present this year. I decided that having his name tattooed on my bottom would be a quirky way of showing both my devotion and my crazy sexy cool.. did not quite go to plan. I was running late so skipped breakfast in my rush to get there and after about five minutes the tatooist had to stop and hold me while I passed out on him.
At one, very humiliating stage I lay across his knees with my wobbly white post-baby bum out, trying my best to focus on and lick the chub-chub lolly his daughter bought and was feeding me to 'get my sugars up' while a queue of big, muscly, hairy bikers waiting impatiently for their huge, naked-girl-on-a-harley-smoking-a-joint-tattoos stood watching (and laughing). It turns out I was seeing double and there were only two of them but it was still awful and I came away shamefaced and sporting "Mr Wall" across my right bum cheek.... I have been told I can go back free of charge to get it finished but I am trying to convince James that Mr.Wall is a great new nickname for me instead...
The most important thing is that my family are all well again now however - and in a much better mindset to enjoy all our lovely presents and Christmas chocolate. If they could Grace would live on chocolate and "toad in the road" only, and Daisy on breastmilk. I had hoped that I would be winding down breastfeeding by now, and might even start going out with an underwired bra on again, but it seems not. We have every single flavour of every single type of babyfood available in our cupboard but all Daisy wants is me. I keep telling myself she will grow out of it soon - but then I remember that programme about that woman who was still breastfeeding her eight-year old and panic.
I got new Christmas boots, James got a new Christmas coat and we have both reverted to teenagers and are embarrassed about them. Remember at school when you were desperate not to be asked if your shoes were new? and if you were questioned would vehemently deny their newness and claim you had had them ages? I am a bit like that with my new Christmas boots and James is even worse with his new Christmas coat, which he thinks looks like a bomber jacket. ("Don't be silly. Bomber jackets make a swish swish noise" I said, just as James changed gear and his coat made the exact same sound.) It did not help that we saw a man in Chesham wearing a bomber jacket with "Nice and Safe Attitude" emblazoned across the back.
Grace got a very noisy keyboard and microphone set from her nanny and grandad. It made us realise how much time Grace spends in shops after we heard her announcing "Grace Waller to the tills please, mummy Waller to the tills please" over and over again.
We have been going to church alot. I admit, initially it was to get Grace into the local C of E school in the village, but now we go because we really enjoy it. Daisy gets unlimited breast access the whole time to keep her quiet and James gets to stay at home and have a well-earned lie-in (or lion as we call it). Grace is already getting a name for herself. Last time I took her up to receive communion she gave Father Martin her half chewed fizzy cola bottle in exchange. He was so touched he told the whole congregation about it and they all applauded her. When they sing the hymns she gets up and twirls round in the aisles, making all the old ladies cry - but then she sets her wind up mouse off and they run away shrieking.
So all in all it's going well in Waller-world, or Wall-world as I now like to call it. I am not looking forward to James going back to work. It's been great to have him at home for a couple of weeks -and not just so he can see how hard being a stay-at-home-mum-is (One of my many new year's resolutions is to stop competing with him about who works harder or who is most tired. "No I in team and all that"...)
Hope you all had a cool yule. Latest photos here: