Highlights of Christmas 2016

Phew, so, here we are, the day after boxing day and the big day already over for another year. Rather than write a really long post I thought I would write something short and sweet, mainly as a way for me to remember the highs (and a few lows) of Christmas 2016.

Monkey’s excitement about putting things out on Christmas Eve

Reading “Twas the night before Christmas” to both kids on Christmas eve, even if LM wasn’t that interested this year.photogrid_1482844208336

Hearing LM shout ‘wow’ and ‘ho ho ho’ when she saw her stocking on Christmas morning.

Monkey’s excitement at finally getting a new magnet in his stocking (he got one last year but broke it and all he has wanted this year from the big man, was a replacement magnet. Bless him!

Excitement that ‘he’s been!’photogrid_1482844417356
Seeing hubs’ family on Christmas day and watching the kids open all their pressies

Seeing how happy hubs was with his pressies

Opening my pressies :)photogrid_1482844614368

The team effort between hubs and I cooking the dinner meaning all went smoothly and was delicious.photogrid_1482849416336

LM trying out her new balance bike

Being able to sit and relax and read a little of my book ‘Harry Potter and the cursed child’, that I got for Christmas, while lego building was happening and LM was napping.

Hubs and Monkey playing the daft laser gun game I got for them.

My parents and Aunt joining us for Christmas Evening and Monkey handcuffing everyone with the police toys we bought him, saying they were his favourite presents :).photogrid_1482849101599

Playing silly games once the kids had gone to bed (and I actually won for once!)

A relaxed boxing day morning before heading to my brother’s house.

Seeing how lovely my brother’s house is and how much they’ve done since they moved in 2 weeks ago!

The lovely spread they put on.

Watching LM be very gentle with ‘tiny cat’

LM’s excitement at the party balloon that whizzed around the room.photogrid_1482849678598

Playing balloon animals… The fun of this lasted hours! Making ever more complicated animals (when the balloons didn’t pop half way through) and chasing LM with them.

Hearing LM’s giggles as she played with her great Auntie.photogrid_1482850377188

All snuggling up watching the Gruffalo on boxing day afternoon.

Going to bed at 8pm on boxing day to catch up on sleep!

A few lows
(Because obviously no day is perfect with 2 little ones, even Christmas day!)

Being woken up in the night on Christmas eve by a terrified Monkey, who thought he heard someone outside his room (the trouble with telling them someone comes into the house in the middle of the night?) then being unable to get back to sleep myself, even hours after he had.

Getting up at 6am with the kiddies

Feeling hugely stuffed after the Christmas dinner

LM having a major meltdown when we tried to take her out to play on her new balance bike.

LM having a huge meltdown on boxing day too leaving us feeling stressed and like we should take her home, though thankfully it was averted by a bag of skips.

And we’re done for another year? Well sort of. Now it’s time to see a few friends and enjoy some family time while hubs has some time off work.

How was your Christmas? Hope you had a lovely one?

Super simple chocolate fudge recipe

I wasn’t sure what on earth to get for Monkey’s Teacher and Teaching Assistants for Christmas this year. It’s our first foray into presents for teachers and to be honest I didn’t want to spend too much money or time on them, but I still wanted to give them something nice. Having seen lots of seemingly simple recipes around for homemade fudge, I decided to give it ago. I’ve typed it up below as mine are a bit of a variation on some others I saw, and ooh they are scrummy.photogrid_1481736987541

I made two, a white chocolate and cranberry fudge and a minty white chocolate fudge. The first part of the recipe is identical then you add flavours later.

Chocolate Fudge ingredients

397g Tin of Condensed Milk
550g White chocolate, broken into small pieces
40g Icing Sugar (sieved)
For the minty version
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
Handful milk chocolate chips (to sprinkle on top)
For the cranberry version
1/2 cup of dried cranberries

Method

Line a baking tray (deep ones work best) with greaseproof paper.

Melt the chocolate and condensed milk. I did this on the hob in a Pyrex dish over boiling water, but you can do it in a microwave, if you do it in 10-20s bursts. With both methods stir well throughout.

Once melted take off the hob and add the sieved icing sugar. Mix well (you can use an electric mixer).

Add other ingredients of your choosing (peppermint extract, or cranberries, or nuts etc) and again stir well.

Pour the mixture into your lined tray and spread evenly. For the minty version this is where I added chocolate chips and gently pressed them in for the topping.

Refrigerate for 3-4 hours at least.

Take out and cut as desired. Our tray was quite long which meant the fudge wasn’t very deep but I got at least 30 bite sized chunks from each, though it would depend on the size of baking tray you use and how big you cut them up!

So easy and so tasty!

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Feeling Christmassy, 2016

My word of the week this week is Christmassy (I know that’s not really a real word but it’s still going to be my word this week) as there’s only a couple of weeks to go until the big day and things are definitely starting to feel festive around here.

We weren’t planning on having our tree up until this weekend, but with a free afternoon last Sunday and a busy weekend ahead this week, well long story short, we found ourselves in a garden centre buying a tree last weekend. It was a very exciting visit as we also saw the big man himself. If you follow my Instagram you may know that we have a slightly suspicious Monkey when it comes to the big man and he has asked a couple of times “are you sure he is really real?” to which our answer is obviously a wholehearted “yes!” photogrid_1481285716518

He seems to be believing again so this year will be fine but I do wonder how many years we have of him believing to come, as he is such a thinker and things clearly aren’t quite adding up in his head!

When we got home it was time to get the decs out and get the tree up. The kids loved looking at the decorations and finding the santander hats, and Monkey was so helpful with the tree which was adorable! Madam didn’t cause too much mischief with the tree either thank goodness :) photogrid_1481286435436

We’ve also got down the playmobil Christmas scene that Monkey was given as a present last year. Both kids have adored playing with that and there has been some very Christmassy play going on as you would imagine. photogrid_1481286111070

The main event though, that has really made me feel Christmassy is that this morning was Monkey’s school Nativity! He has been singing the songs for weeks and I think I know the whole thing off by heart as well! We weren’t allowed to take pictures of the performance itself though this snap I got at the beginning makes me chuckle. If I stood at the right angle then this was my view, through a sea of heads haha and most of the time it wasn’t even this good. 20161209_123308

He said his line brilliantly though and clearly enjoyed singing all the songs and doing the actions, I properly welled up at one point, soppy mummy but I was so proud of him! We got some pictures of him afterwards looking so happy and so proud of himself.
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Tomorrow I am off to York to meet a friend and hopefully get the last bits of Christmas Shopping done so that should be nice!

Are you feeling Christmassy yet or is it still a bit early for you?

Our Family in 2015

So the end of the year is approaching and I am not going to do a full look back at the past year… but I thought it was a good opportunity instead to have a look at all the me and mine shots of our little foursome taken over the past year, to see how much we have all grown and changed.family 2015

Some shots are better than others (ahem June!) and the only shot I have of the four of us for December is a pretty rubbish selfie on the bed on Christmas morning… but it is a shot of all of us and you can see how different the kiddies look compared to January, with LM obviously changing the most throughout the course of the year.

There is much to come in 2016, birthdays, a wonderful holiday with my parents, hopefully house sitting for friends in Dorset again, Monkey starting school in September (eek) and generally enjoying our children grow and change every day. I know people say life with children doesn’t get easier it just changes. .. but I have to disagree. Yes there are always challenges, that’s life, but the challenges are different as the children grow and I personally find that things do get easier as the little onesgrow out of the baby stage.

This time next year LM will probably be talking… she may not be napping anymore and at 2 may even be on her way to being toilet trained. Monkey will be at school and hopefully doing well. It will be a very different Christmas and our lives will be different. I can’t help but be excited to see what else 2016 has in store for us and I plan (or hope) to enjoy every minute as much as I can.

Happy New Year to you and all the best for 2016. Thanks for reading!

Run Jump Scrap!

Christmas 2015

Wow, well that’s it, Christmas is over for another year eh? And what a wonderful Christmas it was in our house. Really magical. Mainly for the sake of posterity here is a quick round up. (And it is quite picture heavy – be warned! :))

Christmas eve and Monkey was so excited to put out the food for Father Christmas and his Reindeer.20151224_182915

Christmas morning and our Little Minx unfortunately woke up around 530. Yawn! We managed to all stay in bed till 615 when she started getting unhappy and woke her brother. Being Christmas we then all piled into our bed with stocking for the excitement of opening our stockings. This is a tradition I remember from when I was a kid and love carrying it on with ours. Wonderful to see Monkey’s excitement at all the little bits and bobs Father Christmas bought him, and though she didn’t have as much LM was very happy with her pressies too. A couple of very attractive family selfies were taken on the bed then it was time to head downstairs.PhotoGrid_1451288565218

We’ve started the tradition that in addition to stockings, FC leaves a wrapped present for each child under the tree and a joint one. Monkey was thrilled to see the food had been eaten and drink drunk and was so excited by his presents. Then we all gave each other some presents. Monkey was massively excited with his Woody toy and LM loved her happyland bits though I think she was wondering what was going on, as well as enjoying it all.PhotoGrid_1451288856877

Then it was time for our yummy traditional fry up breaks something else I remember from growing up. A real treat for Christmas morning and Monkey even ate some of Daddy’s black pudding… and he loved it! Good boy!

We were hosting Christmas at ours, which is about the 4th year in a row. We love doing it, are luck to have the space and it does make it so much easier to have the kids at home where they are comfy for naps etc. This year was the turn of having my family all round. So far the Christmas Dinners have been a joint effort or very much down to Hubs, but this year was the first year I have cooked it all on my own and thankfully it went really well! We did our favourite cider braised ham with honey and mustard glaze instead of Turkey (controversial I know) and of course all the trimmings. Because we are planners we have all the timings written down and for Christmas they are even laminated and honestly it takes so much stress out of it as I knew exactly what I needed to do and when. I was really proud of myself and dinner went down a storm!christmas meal

We all got some truly wonderful presents. I got a beautiful necklace from hubs engraved with his and the kids names, my parents got us annual membership to an awesome farm centre nearby and one of my brother’s gave us vouchers for a meal out including the offer of babysitting – the perfect gift for any parents and so thoughtful! I can’t list everything here but we really were all spoilt with such thoughtful presents. Hubs’ best present was a drone I got him. He has been saying he wanted one since we went to the gadget show and though I have very much vetoed the £2000 ones I found a very cheap one on amazon and it has been so much fun over Christmas. A couple of pictures taken with it haha he needs some practice but they aren’t bad! Not the best quality when it is dark though.drone

We went for a little walk in the wet in the afternoon to clear our heads a bit and get some fresh air and it did the kids good to get out of he house. Plus they loved having fun with their uncles.PhotoGrid_1451314758910

A few other piccies of all the fun throughout the rest of the day :)PhotoGrid_1451289267224

That night when the kids were in bed it was time to rouse our sleepy selves and play some games. Always so much fun and much laughter ensues. Got to be one of my favourite parts of Christmas laughing and having fun with my wonderful family.PhotoGrid_1451314882914

The next day was the turn of hubs’ side of the family and they all came round for yet more presents and a lovely buffet. More yummy food for us all. Again we were all so spoiled with wonderful presents and had so much fun. The kids adore all of their aunts and uncles and grandparents and we are so so lucky to have all of the family so close both literally and figuratively.PhotoGrid_1451315052317

So there we have it, we’ve eaten, drunk and certainly been very merry. What a wonderful happy magical Christmas

How was yours? Ihope it was everything you could have wished for.

Is it all a bit too much?

This time of year is so hectic and full on and I have been feeling lately that maybe it is all just too much, especially for the kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas and all the build up… but everything seems to start so early now and everything is so amped up and it is just feeling a bit much.

rp_20151206_192806-465x720.jpgThe last couple of years we have been provided with a beautiful Christmas tree in exchange for promoting the company on my blog. We have been extremely happy about this arrangement, but it has meant that we have been putting the decorations up far earlier than we would have otherwise. Small trade off but it does affect the kids. Every day I have to stop LM from pulling baubles off the tree and every day I have to tell Monkey that no it isn’t Christmas day yet.

So many people seem to decorate so early these days too. I saw some houses lit up by the end of November… and with social media the number of Christmas trees etc. up and filling my feed as the beginning of December astounded me. I don’t remember things started so early when I was a kid? Why do we all do it? I don’t think we will decorate quite so early in the future as December has felt quite long this year.

I’m also very unconvinced about chocolate in advent calendars. Obviously the kids love it and it is a good way to tell Monkey how many days are left until the big day. But both of my kids have had more chocolate in the last month than they usually get in maybe half a year! Because it isn’t just chocolate in advent calendars, it’s treats from father Christmas and from preschool. There seems to be tonnes of it about and it just feels like too much. I know that it comes down to choice and I don’t have to give the kids a chocolate advent calendar and I’m not sure whether we will next year… don’t want to be bah humbug either so will have to think of something.

There seems to be father Christmases everywhere too now. You can barely leave the house without seeing the big guy in shops, shopping centres, at pre school and school fetes. I had to stop Monkey going in one shop as I knew we would have a tantrum if he saw him and I didn’t let him go to him. But he can’t see him every time we go out, it would cost a fortune and there are only so many naff presents I can cope with! Then there is the whole encouraging our kids to cuddle a stranger in a fancy dress costume… but let’s not go down that road.20151209_105616

Moving on to nativities at pre-school. Don’t get me wrong it was very cute seeing all the kiddies at pre-school all dressed up and singing but really they seem so young for putting on a show. Quite a lot of them were very overwhelmed and my Monkey wasn’t alone in crying for much of the performance. It just feels like a bit too much pressure on them? Some of them revelled in it of course as all kids are different but many didn’t. Why is there the need to do these performances? Who is it for? Us parents? I would rather have my little man be happy carrying on his usual routine than upset about the changes and feeling pressured to do something he isn’t comfortable with yet. Maybe that’s just me though. It was lovely but I guess I’m just not sure it was worth it, if that makes sense.

We managed to get a few smiles after pulling silly faces from the audince... but he wasn't happy about perfomring!

We managed to get a few smiles after pulling silly faces from the audince… but he wasn’t happy about performing!

I’ve also found that some children at preschool are ‘writing cards’ for their friends there. Or rather their mums are getting lists of the kids names and writing out cards to each of them. On the one hand it is lovely and thoughtful and Monkey does enjoy receiving the cards … but on the other it just feels a bit too much. I don’t even know who some of the kids he has received cards from are… and when I ask him Monkey says he doesn’t know either. Maybe that says more about me as I am not the most sociable person in the world but who has the time or money to write an additional 20 odd cards for children that will just go in the recycling in a few weeks? I may get Monkey to help write a few for friends… though given that tomorrow is his last day I may never get round to it haha. He has made some gorgeous cards for his relatives though.

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I am also eating too much at the moment… which I know is down to no-one but me. There is the attitude of why not, it’s Christmas, treat yourself. But it’s not actually Christmas yet and I have been over indulging for too long so now a week before Christmas I feel ready to diet already! Like I say it’s no one’s fault but my own but it’s just another example of things being ‘too much’ at the moment.

Christmas presents are another matter entirely. I loved this post from Sara at Mum turned Mom about why they are giving their children experiences rather than gifts and this post from Mum of Three World really spoke to me too about the uselessness of some of the gifts that the shops are filled with at this time of year. We don’t give the kids very many presents at Christmas, one from us, one from santa and a few small bits like books as stocking fillers. They get enough from their relatives and don’t feel they need much more… and I will follow Sara’s example in the future! As for everyone else we usually buy from lists we have been given for ease and making sure it is what they want… but this year we have gone off-list for most people and have hopefully bought some thoughtful presents that they will like and/or find useful. I hope so anyway!

I think part of my problem this year is actually that we have been uncharacteristically organised. Thanks to a couple of child free shopping trips we got organised buying presents really early and I am not sure that has been for the best. For a start, a couple of things have been reduced since then (grrr) and also I am second guessing some pressies and wondering if we are giving enough and am ending up spending more than I do when things I am less organised. Daft eh?

I am aware this is a slightly rambling grumpy post and I assure you I am not really scrooge reincarnated. Outwardly I am joining in with a smile on my face. Monkey and I are crafting, I am wrapping presents and writing cards and most of all I will love spending the extra time with my family as that is really what it is all about to me. I know that many of the above gripes come down to choice and I feel maybe I will make a few conscious choices next year instead of being swept along with the tide of what everyone else is doing.

I’ve also been watching the “back in time for Christmas” programmes recently and it is fascinating seeing Christmas across different eras compared to Christmas now. Have you seen it? What did you think?

My word of the week is a bit of a cheat as it is two words – “too much.”

The Reading Residence

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

The word of the week for us this week has to be “Christmas” as it has been a very Christmassy week!

Things kicked off with a bang on Friday night as hubs and I had a wonderful night out for his works Christmas do. Not only was it a night out but a night away as my parents babysat and we got a night in a hotel room. Not just any hotel room either, as one of my close friends works in the hotel where the party was hosted (the same hotel we got married in, in fact) and she got us upgraded to the bridal suite! It was amazing and luxurious and so so lovely to be us for the night and not Mummy & Daddy. I drank too much and stayed up too late but at least we didn’t have to get up for the kids first thing in the morning!PhotoGrid_1449671744841

Christmas continued over the weekend (through our monster hangovers, honestly I can’t hack it anymore!) as we got our decorations up. I have to tell you about our new lights from Wilko – NOT a sponsored post in anyway but I think they are fab. They are battery powered and come with batteries and being suitable indoor or outdoor there are no cables trailing across the garden. Then, this is the best bit, they have a built in timer. So you turn them on at whatever time, say 4pm, they stay on for 6 hours and then they will come on the same time the next day and every day after. Genius and timesaving!!PhotoGrid_1449672389832

We adore our Pines and Needles Christmas tree and I do have a special code to get you some freebies if you would be interested in ordering one, check it out here. We also bought a few new decs as some of ours were looking a bit naff. We have a lovelu cushion and throw… and I would like to introduce you to Horace the Christmas reindeer head…. haha Hubs’ choice :)

Monkey and I have been doing our Christmas crafting and then Tuesday night I had my little Christmas meal out with my four bestie Mummy friends. An evening full of laughter and fun and I love those girls I really do. No piccies though sadly!

Wednesday the magic continued as my parents, aka Nanny & Pops took us on the Santa Special on the local Nene Valley Railway. My stepdad volunteered on it for a few years so he has been looking forward to taking the kiddies on it. Monkey was so so excited and he adored meeting Father Christmas. LM was far less convinced and actually looked a bit terrified of the big man haha. She enjoyed being with her Nanny & Pops though and she loved her pressie. It got really, really hot on the train but other than that we all loved it. Us 4 grown ups may have had a cheeky baileys too haha. Yum!PhotoGrid_1449672095487

I’ve also got all the Christmas cards written this week, a few presents wrapped ready to meet some friends this weekend and the last bits bought. Hubs and I have gone through all the food orders as we have my family here on Christmas Day and his here on Boxing day. All in all I am feeling much more ready for Christmas now and looking forward to it. How are your plans going? Are you in the festive spirit yet? 2 weeks to go woohoo!!

The Reading ResidenceMummascribblesBest of Worst

Christmas Crafts with a pre-schooler

Tuesday mornings is Mummy & Monkey time while LM is out with my parents at rhyme time, and it is often a time when the messy play or crafts come out as it means she can’t interfere or eat things she shouldn’t! It is also lovely one on one time with my Monkey. Last week we started our Christmas crafting and had a really lovely time.

I never know what crafts to aim for, I see some gorgeous things on pinterest etc. but I know a lot of the work involved would be done by me, so I tend to stick to simple things I know he can achieve and that he enjoys. So we spend a lot of time just finger painting or car painting haha! I decided on quite a simple actiity to start with that I knew he would enjoy. Making a Christmas tree picture. I cut out the triangles but I asked Monkey to snip at the bottom to be the branches and leaves. I thought this would be a good way to practice his scissor skills and I was dead impressed with the little snips he made. They were very deliberate and neat.PhotoGrid_1449505487227

Then it was a case of gluing and sticking see pretty bits on, something Monkey loves and does really well. We also stuck some cotton wool on for snow.

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Monkey then asked to get the metallic pens out and I confess to thinking this would ruin the picture but he actually did well. I drew some tinsel and he drew some sparkly baubles and stars bless him.PhotoGrid_1449505933980 This didn’t take long so Monkey and I then had a quick look on pinterest together and he said he wanted a go at some pictures we saw of cotton bud painting,  so that was our next activity. I drew somestar shapes and then because he wanted to do it together we dotted and filled them in together. Again I was impressed that he stayed in the lines for the most part. Love seeing his development and he is growing up so much all the time these days!PhotoGrid_1449506057259

He then said he would like to do the same type of picture of a snowman and Christmas tree. So I drew the shapes for these (though I loved Monkey’s addition of a hat for the snowman!!)PhotoGrid_1449506278528 He did well at this though got a bit fixated on the black paint and wanted everything to be black. After a bit of encouragement (and yes a little involvement from me, but not much) we finished the picture then when he wanted to do another picture I let his imagination run a bit more and then even more with the next one!

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Bit of of a devolution but who cares he was having lots of fun! I loved the arms he did on snowman no.2 and apparently the bottom one is also a snowman and the dots are his arms :).

#ToddlerApprovedTuesday

Our Christmas Tree from Pines and Needles

It’s December, which means that Christmas preparations are in full swing in our house. Are they in yours? The presents are all bought and I’ve written most of the Christmas cards now. We also have our tree and decorations up, and well, what a magnificent tree it is!20151206_192806

This beauty came courtesy of Pines and Needles. A wonderful eco-friendly Christmas Tree company, who would you believe, deliver them right to your door. Now I know there is something lovely about choosing your tree yourself but when you have small kids any shopping trip can be hard work and trying to squeeze a tree into your car in between car seats and all the other paraphernalia… well that can escalate it to nightmare.

This is our second year receiving a fabulous tree from Pines and Needles and we have been so impressed with the quality of everything. Last year we had our tree up from 1st December and it lasted well past Christmas without looking dry. The Nordman Fir is our favourite as it doesn’t drop anywhere near as many needles as a traditional tree but still looks and smells fantastic. They are also very competitively priced in my opinion too and we would easily spend the same amount on a tree in our local garden centre.

20151205_171816It isn’t just trees either as Pines and Needles sell lots of other lovely bits too. The tree stand they provided us with is by far the best and easiest tree stand I have ever used, and the mat is oh so handy as I do have a tendency to spill water when watering the tree! Plus it adds a bit of extra traction on our hard floor making the tree very firm on the ground.

I am a little in love with the garland they sent too, I’ve never had a garland made from a real tree before and it is amazing. It just looks gorgeous on our mantelpiece but also has rope attached very firmly so you could hang it if you wish.20151205_175947

Finally they also sent these gorgeous mini trees for the kiddies which are oh so cute and will be planted in the garden come spring.

mini trees

So if you love the idea of a real tree but don’t want the hassle of going and getting one then I cannot recommend Pines and Needles enough. As a little bonus I have a discount code for you to use too.

By using STAY15 at the checkout you would get the following:

Free 10″ Decorated Wreath
Free Holly
Free Mistletoe
Free Mini Tree

Why not give their delivery service a go this year?

We're going on an adventureMummascribbles

Our Christmas 2014

We are back! I hope everyone had a lovely festive break? Got everything they wanted from Father Christmas? Ate lots of ymmy food? Good! We have all had a lovely Christmas. It has of course been LM’s first christmas but also the first Christmas that Monkey has really understood what is happening and really enjoyed the build up and everything involved in Christmas. He has been so cute, shouting “Merry Christmas” to anyone and everyone and you may have seen our little video of him singing Merry Christmas which was just adorable. If anything we are struggling to persuade him that it isn’t Christmas again for another year!

It hasn’t been the easiest Christmas with a demanding baby and over-excited toddler but it has been a lot of fun. We have spent lovely time together as a family and all been very spoilt with lots of lovely presents. I won’t bore you with the details but here are some pics of our lovely Christmas 2014.

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Family selfie opening presents on the bed – nearly all of us looking!

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Monkey amazed by the tree and presents

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Monkey helping LM open her present from Father Christmas

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LM in her pretty Christmas Dress

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Cuddles with Nanny

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Cuddles with Great Auntie Maggie, Uncle Marky & Nanny

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Cuddles with Daddy

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Our first Christmas Family photo as a four…

 

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With Monkey’s best smiley face :)

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Reading one of his Christmas present books with Uncle Marky!

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Auntie Fran and Nanny

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Yummy Cider Braised Ham and all the trimmings

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And a slightly crazy Christmas Pudding firework (?)

 

Linking with #Tinsel Tuesdays