Monday, 31 December 2012

That Was The Year That Was, 2012 .... The Awards.

So 2012 sprints towards the finish line and a big hug with 2013 while the rest of us hold hands, sing a song we barely understand for reasons never fully understood, and kiss people who either have:
A) irresponsible whiskers
B) eaten FAR too much garlic
C) you wouldn't throw a lifebelt to if they were drowning at any other minute in the entire realm of time or space.
But the VERY BEST THING about the ending of 2012 is the chance to give awards out to Those and That which have gone above and beyond in their duty to make the past 12 months a better place to live so, ladies and gentleman, without further ado 

*Rips off dressing gown to reveal sparkly dress* 

*Drum Roll*

Film of the Year: This year I fulfilled a first by taking (nearly) all my children to see a film at the cinema AT THE SAME TIME. One had to go to a friend's party but, you know, I got close to fulfilling a bit of an ambition anyway.
That wasn't my favourite film of the year though, it was good but it wasn't Brave.
Brave was the Eleven Year Old's film of choice for her 11th birthday party. She took up archery shortly after. It's a fantastic film, but I AM very careful not to eat anything she gives me these days .... 

*Strokes own snout*

TV Programme of the Year: When deciding to make an award in this category I discovered I don't watch much TV at all so that's why only Red Dwarf X, Dr Who, one particular week of Come Dine With Me, anything with James May in, and a variety of popular reality shows *hangs head* are in the running.
.....And the award goes to that one particular week of Come Dine With Me for being the most talked about, tweeted about and heralded edition of  Come Dine With Me EVER, at least in Wakefield. Hurrah!.
Though Strictly Come Dancing gets a special mention for Artem Chigvintsev's chest  and Colin Salmon, of course.

Actress of the Year: Regardless of the fact that TeenTwin1 has, in the past, acted on the stage of the West Yorkshire Playhouse, that TeenTwin2 is currently preparing to appear in Antigone and that both of them are A* Distinction-With-Knobs-On drama students. Despite all that, Actress of the Year goes to the Eleven Year Old 
*Tumultuous applause.*
Awarded for her appearances in "Tearful" and "Sulks," the Eleven Year Old has demonstrated that she can live any role convincingly. At least, convincingly enough for Daddy.*Rolls eyes*

Actor of the Year: Same as every year. Hugh Grant. Special mentions to Alan Rickman and Bruce Willis. *lascivious face*

Comedian of the Year: For the sixth year running awarded to The Boy who ALWAYS makes me laugh even when I'm not supposed to and because he is so very himself, while also being partly me, his dad, three sisters, the voice of the Fat Controller and Dr Who. *Secretly worries*

Man of the Year: Mine, obvs.

Most Tear-filled Moment of the Year: So many to choose from in a year of human achievement sometimes quite literally above and entirely beyond expectations. This year has been extraordinarily emotional, the Olympics was just one huge tear fest from beginning to end and we, as a country, wallowed in it with abandon. 
By that time though, I was already at number three of the Likely to Get Emotional Any Minute Top Ten. My personal 2012 tear fest began in earnest at the beginning of the year, reached a small pinnacle literally minutes before THE PROM and has basically continued unabated ever since; the Eleven Year Old's first day at secondary school, the Eleven Year Old passing her piano exam with a distinction, The Boy getting 10 out of 10 for his spellings for the FIRST TIME EVER, me having a ruck with The Boy's headmistress, James Arthur winning X Factor.
But the best, the most and totally, completely tear-sodden moment of the year was when the TeenTwins got their GCSE results. They were *wells up again* really, rather, jolly good.
*Smug look*

Best Event of the Year: The Olympics and Paralympics are a shooo in for this award in every awards ceremony this year. Or should I say, in every OTHER awards ceremony this year. Don't get me wrong, I loved the Olympics. It made me proud, if only briefly *raises eyebrows at David Cameron* of the country in which I live. I bailed out of doing actual sport in about 1979, but for a few weeks this summer, I felt like an athlete... all that running to the telly to catch yet another medal winning performance can REALLY take it out of you.
The Olympics WERE fabulous and brought the entire country together but MY Best Event of the Year award goes to something that brought a community together, started new friendships, sparked ambition, fired dreams and lit the flame for new events. My award goes to @OssettObserver and Flock to Ossett.
I also got to make a sheep with my mum for which I will always be entirely grateful, if slightly surprised.

Which brings us to our final award of the year
Favourite Photograph of the Year: The nominees are basically me, me and, um, me because there is no point in having an awards ceremony if I don't get to win something too. *Shifty look*
AND the winner is .....

....Because this photographic award is not at all about skill but more about the warm, fuzzy feeling you get inside when you've captured something special.
So there.

*Runs off with trophy to a champagne reception for one*

See you in 2013..... probably.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Mummy v Christmas. And the winner is ......

Christmas is all about the children. I mean apart from the drinking a skipful of alcohol before breakfast and eating your own body-weight in food you wouldn't consider eating if you were starving at any other time of the year, Christmas is OBVIOUSLY all about the children.

For the past three months almost my every waking thought has been about Christmas. I have listened to hints carefully, even the ones delivered with a sledgehammer at 3,000 decibels. I have considered, mulled and faffed. I have scouted, sourced, sought out and shopped until if I haven't actually dropped, I've started to wilt dramatically.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

It's The End Of The World As We Know It...

.... Or it is according to an ancient civilisation, a large section of modern (and let's face it, probably) mad people and my gorgeous, sweet, innocent 11 year old daughter.

She worries you see. Always has. 

Ever since she was a little girl every new step has been an impossible leap, right up until just after she's taken it and then she's fine. So she didn't want to go to school, she didn't want to go sleep at grandma's house, she didn't want to go on holiday, she didn't want to go swimming, she didn't want to go horse-riding and she definitely didn't want to go to piano lessons. 

The "I don't want to..." moments have moved on from screaming tantrums and heart-rending sobs to sticking her lip out and scowling through to now, as a pre-teen, a full-on stomp on the stairs and the bang of her bedroom door. *Sighs*

But I think she's always been quite a brave little girl because, cajoled, coaxed, jollied along and, yes, bribed, she HAS done all those things she really, definitely didn't, not-ever-mummy wanted to do. And bloody well enjoyed them.

But the end of the world, that's a different matter. She definitely doesn't want to do that and no matter what anyone says, and I really can't fault her logic here, she's knows she won't feel any better about it afterwards either.

It's a worry that has bubbled to the surface every so often for months now. Every time someone, somewhere mentions the Mayan prophecy she worries just that little bit more. And we have again tried to cajole, coax and jolly her out of it. 

We've explained about recurrent end of the world myths and that this is just another one. That she has lived through at least one supposed end of the world to my knowledge and all we lost then was a teaspoon. That the current myth is based on a calendar composed  by an ancient civilization that was barely used by the ancient civilization themselves (it being the long calendar and mostly used by priests and astronomers as we all know, of course). And that they very probably got the date wrong and if you take leap years into consideration the world was supposed to end last year anyway.
We've tried realism:
Well, if the world does end, you won't notice anyway because the world will have ended.
And we've tried humour:
They'd carved about 5,000 dates on a stone, they probably got bored and gave up  with a "Sod it, nobody'll notice." and went to the pub.
The TeenTwins, gawd bless 'em, have tried scorn. *Tuts*

But still. She worries. And she will worry. Probably right up until midnight on December 21st (though I AM crossing all limbs extant hoping that nobody mentions time zones to her). 

And I shall worry just a little about her instead of the end of the world. But when the world hasn't ended I'll tell her it's not wrong to be scared and if you ARE scared it's ALWAYS better to talk about it. And then I'll tell her I love her. And then I will tell her that sometimes she can be a right silly sausage.

Then she'll probably stomp off up the stairs. *Sighs again.*

Monday, 17 December 2012

A Festive Playlist ...

'Tis the season to be jolly, but not too jolly .. at least not if you're the designated driver so those lovely people at Britmums have laid down a challenge: Put together a playlist to keep your designated driver still  feeling festive while you're trying to negotiate yourself, five drunk workmates and an inflatable reindeer into a hatchback.

And as Christmas just isn't Christmas until Noddy Holder has bellowed, Brummily: "It's Chriiiiiiistmaaaaaaas" this is first, foremost and always my seasonal starter ...

....Sadly I remember the song being originally released in 1973, otherwise I WOULD be convinced that Christmas just wouldn't happen without Noddy giving it permission.

Likewise, it's not Christmas until you've swayed drunkenly along to this ....

.... although rather bizarrely The Boy's nativity production including a version of this with ENTIRELY different lyrics which was, um, disconcerting for a while. That while being mostly made up of these thoughts:
"Ooh, I like this one. What is it again? Dum de Dum, Dum de Dum. What? It's not? It is? It isn't? OH, it is and it isn't. Phew" or something like that.

And Christmas just ISN'T a proper Christmas unless there's a bit of brass* about and the only kind there's likely to be, *looks at depleted purse and sniffs a bit* is the musical kind so This ...

Because just a BIT of brass is, really, quite enough. *Tuts*

BUT choirs, ah well that's another matter. Christmas wouldn't BE Christmas if it wasn't for a bit of choral singing. And sobbing. Choirs and sobbing ARE actual Christmas requirements...

By now, of course, the designated driver might be feeling festive, but in a decidedly tearful way so why not go the whole hog. It's a classic Christmas song and gives me (yet another) opportunity to boast about giving Bob Geldof a kiss. Hoorah ....

And yes, I did kiss Bob Geldof.**

I NEVER kissed Cliff Richard, but I did once dance to "Congratulations" in an ill-fitting tutu in front of a Lady Mayoress but I digress. Christmas is just not ever, ever Christmas until you've wanted to trash the Christmas tree and strangle the turkey and THIS is usually the trigger...

*Grinds teeth*
Though if you are trying to wrestle five drunk colleagues and an inflatable reindeer into a car, this at least WILL deflect some of the exasperation that your chosen designated driver feels for you ONTO Cliff Richard. Ace.

But Christmas just really isn't ever, at all, even the merest twinkle in Santa's eye until someone, somewhere has sat you down and forced you to listen to (and possibly watch) this....

BEST. CHRISTMAS. SONG. EVER. #truefacthardwithknobson

AND your designated driver will be grateful that not only have you managed to deflate both Doreen from Human Resource's hair AND the reindeer but for Elvis Presley too. As should we all. *Bows head*

This post is part of the Britmum's Festive Song Linky

* hilariously funny colloquialism joke
**But only on the cheek. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Keeping the Christmas Magic Alive

With ten years between the birth of the TeenTwins and The Boy, as well as an 11-year-old Tween five years younger than one and older than the other in the house maintaining the magic of Christmas MIGHT have been a difficult manoeuvre to pull off over the years.

But, and this is the bit that baffles me, it hasn't.

The Boy, aged six, believes in Santa with a six year old's hand-clenching, eye-shutting, watermelon-smile depth of belief. And, possibly worryingly, the TeenTwins and the Tween seem to believe with an equal surety.

So how has this miracle of belief of Santa been pulled off you ask yourselves? And frankly, I'm buggered if I know.

Though, at some point in the distant past, around about the time the TeenTwins started looking knowingly at the sudden increase of festive carrier bags arriving in the house mid-December, I told a lie. It wasn't THAT big a lie, but it was a lie nevertheless. And over the years that lie has grown and developed and become much like the Dragon Door, a family truth that isn't at all, er, true.

My lie, the little one, so small to be practically white was, when challenged on the existence of Santa Claus by an inquisitive then-smaller TeenTwin, to be one of Santa's helpers. Not an elf OBVIOUSLY because there are some limits to which a child's imagination can stretch and me being an elf is not one of them.
"It's a big world," I said, "You can't expect one man with a beard to do EVERYTHING, do you?"

I may have tutted elaborately, looked a bit scathing and then changed the subject, quickly.

But that's not enough for a child's mind. Once they get an idea in their head, they WILL not let it go and so, over the years, and over the children, the lie has become:

"All mummy's the world over are, along with their newborn child, presented with a scroll inducting them into the Santa's Little Helper Club and there are rules. The first rule is never to tell anyone that you're a member of Santa's Little Helper Club. Obviously.
"The Mummy Division of Santa's Little Helpers are the ones on the ground, the ones in the real world. The Santa Agent Special helper giving constant feedback to Santa headquarters on who does and who doesn't get a visit from The Big Man. We're the ones tackling the shops, in at the kill at the cash register, fighting for Christmas.
*Brave, selfless look*
"And I wouldn't be doing all that if Santa DIDN'T exist, would I? Now, go to sleep."

And, strangely, they all seem quite happy with that. Well that and the flour and glitter wellington boot footsteps from the hearth to the tree on Christmas morning. And the half eaten carrot, crumbs of a mince pie and drained glass of sherry left on a plate. Oh, and the megafuckton of presents piled under the Christmas tree.

Yes, they all seem happy to believe in Santa, whatever their age.....

The Boy meets The Boss
....Though sometimes, not often, but just sometimes I get the impression, fleetingly, that somehow, in some way SOME of them might just be, well .... humouring me. 

*Eyes TeenTwins thoughtfully*

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The Gallery ... It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I'm joining in with The Gallery and this week the theme is "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas" ...

But, er, no it isn't. 

The entire world may have been festooned in baubles since the clock struck midnight on December 1st but not in this house. No sir. There won't be a piece of tinsel strung until December 23rd so really it isn't looking a lot like Christmas at all.... except under my bed and in the cupboard and the other cupboard. *Sighs*

Not that we're a bunch of Scrooges, Bah Humbug-ging around the place. I like Christmas. Very much. I don't enjoy the several hours of wrestling with an over-sized turkey and juggling a fields-worth of potatoes and I bloody loathe peeling chestnuts but Christmas, ACTUAL Christmas? (For these purposes defined as THAT squeal when a child opens the present they didn't even know they wanted). Yes, I like Christmas.

But I had the bad judgement to give birth to the TeenTwins on December 22nd 1995 somewhere between Coronation Street and an episode of Red Dwarf. My guilt at this total lack of foresight made me promise that I would never, ever lump their birthdays in with the Christmas celebrations. This, over the past 17 years, has basically become me saying "Well, I'm not putting the tree up until after your birthday" and them saying: "Aw, go on."


ANYWAY, it's a tradition so no, it's not looking a lot like Christmas at all. My entry to The Gallery is The Christmas Tree *cough* 2011.

Please check out everyone else's entries at The Gallery

Saturday, 8 December 2012

#1000 Snowflakes ... A Story

Once upon a time there was a snowflake called Colin. Colin was not a very nice snowflake, he was mean to all the other snowflakes at Snowflake School and would push them around in the playground. "You're not properly symmetrical," he would shout at smaller, shyer snowflakes and run off laughing.

None of the other snowflakes liked Colin, he was never asked to join in their games or invited to their parties and he was ALWAYS the last snowflake to be picked for teams. Colin knew it was because all the other snowflakes didn't like how he behaved, but he knew he behaved that way because, really, he was a very lonely snowflake.

Sometimes Colin was very sad about this, but it didn't stop him being mean to the other snowflakes because, somehow, being mean made him feel just a little bit less lonely.

But soon Colin would have to line up with all the other snowflakes to get picked for their first Big Snow Fall, one of the most frightening but thrilling adventures of a young snowflake's life. They all longed to be picked, but they all dreaded it too.

Secretly Colin worried he wouldn't get picked at all and would have to stay in school on his own waiting for the other snowflakes to come home, but still he charged around the playground pushing and shoving and tripping the other snowflakes over.

When at last the day of the Big Snow Fall came, Colin lined up with all the other snowflakes and waited to be picked. He waited and waited and waited. One by one all the other snowflakes were chosen and taken away. Gradually the playground emptied and there was only Colin left, standing all on his own.

No one had picked him. No one had wanted him. One big icy tear slid down Colin's cheek. He wished he'd been nicer to all the other snowflakes. He wished he hadn't pushed them over and called them rude names. He wished a whole lot of things but he knew he couldn't change anything he'd done but maybe. Just maybe....

Colin flurried off. He had a plan but he needed someone to help him.

Colin had lots and lots of  brothers and sisters. They'd had to put up with Colin when he was mean but they all still loved him very much, so when he asked for their help and explained what he wanted to do, they all looked at each other and said they'd help him. As long as Colin was never, ever mean to any of them ever again.

But Colin didn't have the time to be mean anymore.
"We're going to join in the Fall," he said.
"But there's barely enough of us to be a flurry," said Cecil, Colin's eldest brother.
"I know," said Colin, "We're going to do something different. Something beautiful. We're going to Fall first and light the way for all the other little snowflakes from school who are scared."

And so they fell.

All the other snowflakes were stood waiting, slightly shivering, in the dark to make the Fall when they saw Colin and his brothers and sisters floating down in front of them.
"It's Colin," they whispered to each other, "What IS he doing?"

Colin and his brothers and sisters fell with a whisper and a hush through the night sky and settled gently on pillars surrounding a small well in the centre of a small town. They held hands together and concentrated really, really hard until they began, softly, to glow like frozen stars caught on earth.

Up above, all the little small shy snowflakes cheered.

"Look," they shouted, "Colin is showing us the way."

And they jumped.

Down on the pillars, there was a sudden rumbling from deep inside the well, an icy blast and Jack Frost climbed out.

"What are you doing," he said, his voice like a fingernail scratch down a blackboard.
"Showing them the way," said Colin.
"You don't do that very often young Colin," said Jack Frost looking doubtful, "Why would YOU of all the snowflakes be doing that then?"
" Because I know," said Colin, "What they're like when they're frightened."
"Yes?" said Jack Frost.
"I know," whispered Colin, "Because I frighten them too."
"Well then." said Jack Frost looking up into the night sky at the still gently falling snowflakes, "I don't suppose you'll be doing that again, will you?"

Only he, Colin and Colin's brothers and sisters could hear the excited squeals and laughter of the snowflakes as they fell.
"No. Sir," said Colin, "No, Sir. I won't."

And he never did.

Now at Big Snow Fall time, Colin is ALWAYS the very first snowflake to be picked and he waits by the well, patiently, until every single snowflake has fallen.
It's a lonely job,  he thinks, but someone's got to do it.
And then he goes home to his family and to his friends.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Fighting Talk

Walking The Boy home from school today he said something that made my heart twist inside a little bit.

"Sometimes I think," he said, "I don't have a very nice life."

Though of course he does, mostly. He is a happy, gregarious, funny, eloquent six year old phased by very little the world has chosen to throw at him during his short life apart from the one thing that prompted him to say he didn't have a very nice life in the first place.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Gallery ... Colour

I'm joining in with The Gallery and this week, the prompt is Colour ....

In the summer, the good people of my hometown gathered together to knit and crochet up a storm as part of an arts event called Flock to Ossett. I've never before lamented that my knitting skills are, to put it politely, basic and that crocheting just looks like someone performing high level wool magic. *Sigh*

But I was beyond proud that my Mum, who DOES know how to cast on and off and other such arcane knowledge, joined in and was part of an actual yarn-bombing. My mum, ladies and gentleman, an arts terrorist armed with wool and a crochet hook ...

And the town looked glorious. Full of .. TA-DA ...colour

Though I DID make a contribution to Flock to Ossett, albeit a small (and badly knitted) one, for somewhere on this gloriously colourful bike ....

... is a two inch strip of knitting that I ACTUALLY knitted. All by myself. And without* my mum tutting and saying: "I've tried to teach her LOADS of times."

*Oh sorry, WITH -_-

This is my entry for The Gallery, check out everyone else's entries at Sticky Fingers.

By the way, if you're visiting there is a new installation in Ossett for Christmas called #1000snowflakes

Less colour, but just as beautiful.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Dear Santa...

So it's that time of year again ... no, NOT the season of goodwill to all men which, let's be honest, effectively lasts from 5pm on Christmas Eve until 3 o'clock on Christmas Day because there is a reason Boxing Day is called Boxing Day. And it's mostly because mother-in-laws have opinions on gravy that shouldn't be aired in public. *Tuts*

No, it's the time of the year when every mother in the land looks hopelessly at her offspring and wonders what to buy them for Christmas. *Sighs*

SOME of us resort to the age old tradition of making them write a letter to Santa and then really wish we hadn't. This year's crop of festive wish-list items from my own little treasures has done nothing but made me, well, boggle.

The Tween's list was, at least, predictable. An iPhone, an iPod, an iPad and anything else beginning with i because EVERYONE ELSE HAS GOT ONE MUM. An' a hamster. An' a dog. No, two dogs, because one dog would get lonely. And another cat because EVERYONE ELSE HAS GOT ONE MUM.

The TeenTwins lists are less ambitious but equally as exasperating. TeenTwin1 would like a remote control Batmobile, TeenTwin2 a 24" high Minnie Mouse soft toy.

No matter that the TeenTwins will be SEVENTEEN years old three days before Christmas and are in their first year of sitting A levels. Apparently a Batmobile and a Minnie Mouse are perfectly acceptable presents for two girls who have a special level of sneer if you so much as suggest they might not be totally grown up.

No matter too that TeenTwin1 has already purloined her brother's Batmobile for display purposes and TeenTwin2 has fifteen other Minnie Mouse soft toys. No, let's not worry about that.


And The Boy. All The Boy would like is a Diesel Shunter, but only because he wants to give it to his dad. Which is really cute OBVIOUSLY and all dead nice of him and that, but I have NO IDEA what a Diesel Shunter is or where to start looking for one. Well, it's a train thing obviously but you know. Trains. *Rolls eyes*

So, basically, THIS Christmas the children are going to get what I think they need rather than what they want. And yeah, I'm sorry about that. Not.

*Locks Santa in the cellar*

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