Sunday, December 29, 2013

What a difference a year makes

I'm not going to lie. Last Christmas was hideous. James and I received so many well-meaning cards telling us to enjoy this, our 'most special Christmas ever', and all I could do was look at the yowling six-week-old in my arms and wonder where my life had gone and whether our cheery correspondents were taking the piss. 

I realise how ungrateful that sounds. But the potent combination of the physical effects of childbirth and the psychological effects of sleep deprivation and new parent ineptitude do not a jolly Yuletide make. I remember feeling extremely sorry for myself when I realised that I still wasn't able to sit down on a wooden kitchen chair to eat my Christmas dinner. Samuel was tiny and precious and delicate and I was absolutely terrified of him. But last Christmas's one saving grace was the fact that my mum and my sister came down to stay with us and help us get through it.

But this year was different. This Christmas we enjoyed ourselves. This Christmas we drove south to visit Granny Pat for a yummy boeuf bourguignon and giggles aplenty. Then we drove north to stay with my mum and sister. In the back of the car for both journeys was a hardy, boisterous and sweet little toddler who still had no idea what Christmas was all about but who was going to squeeze every last drop of enjoyment out of it nonetheless. The tree. The presents. The living room floor covered in torn wrapping paper. Joining everyone at the table to eat Christmas dinner. Running around, dancing and bashing on the piano. The utter adoration of his Grannys and Aunty. He was a delight and loved the lot. And I loved watching him loving having an amazing time. Especially in the house where I happily spent all of my childhood Christmases. 

It was pretty textbook at home. Mum kept feeding us. The Baileys and Madeira kept flowing.  By Day 3 cabin fever kicked in and Lucy and I escaped for an hour to a retail park and reverted to giddy 14-year-olds in a discount beauty store. It was so much fun and our haul was impressive. By Day 4 we were in the midst of Chrimbo Limbo - we had absolutely no idea what day it was, we'd eaten way too many Quality Streets and we had way too much time on our hands. So I did what anyone would do. I ordered Miranda Hart's Maraccattack DVD. Just a normal Kiely/Chittenden Christmas, then. I love my family so much. Can't wait for the next one. 

Monday, December 23, 2013


No posts for a while. I guess that's because December has been pretty busy. And that is in no small part due to the fact we now have a bona fide toddler. Samuel's walking has come on in leaps and bounds this month and he's everywhere and into everything. To see him walk from the sofa to the toy box like a determined little old drunk makes me prouder than I could ever have imagined. But a nice sit down? Well that's definitely a thing of the past.

What else? Well the party season has been good to us. James has had various work nights out and I've broken the habit of a lifetime (Samuel's lifetime) and had a couple of nights out myself. And guess what? The world did not stop spinning because James did Samuel's bedtime bottle, and nor did Samuel suffer for my absence. If anyone suffered after V's birthday at The Elk in the Woods, it was me as a 1am bedtime isn't, it turns out, compatible with an energetic and early-rising baby. But I loved going out with my friends that night. I loved wearing a dress, getting a tube at night again and  being the person that I used to be. And it was the same last week when I met up with L for a preview screening of Inside No.9, the new show from half of The League of Gentlemen. That it was hilarious and chilling goes without saying, but the thing I really loved was just being out in the evening with a friend at a cinema (a CINEMA! What a novelty!) and just knowing that I can do this stuff again. 

Other things that have happened this month. Well, afternoon mince pie visits aplenty from good pals. Also, James, Samuel and I went to check out the new Crystal Palace Market restaurant one Sunday and it was glorious. Chilled out, quick and baby friendly - everything we want in a restaurant these days. What's more, we ate the most delicious burgers. We went along with some good friends and their kids who we've only really got to know since we had Samuel. I think if there's one thing I've realised this month - and probably this whole horror show of a year (which continues thanks to a leaking roof, but that's another story) - it's that we really are blessed with some excellent friends. And I know that some of them - some of you - read this silly little blog, so I just want to wish you the best Christmas. You rock. Yes, you.