snow days.

What do you think of snow? Personally, I am not sure. I never have been really.

I love it the first day it falls – the day that you can get out and have a snowball fight, go sledging, make snow angels or just snuggle up inside with a hot chocolate and watch it fall magically to the ground.

But the day after? When the stark reality hits and you have to actually leave the house and DO STUFF?

Then I start to absolutely hate the stuff!

We had our first snowfall of the year this week, and I can’t honestly remember the last time I saw so much of the stuff. It was ankle deep here in Lichfield, and I don’t even think Ruby remembers seeing it like that before. I however, remember vividly trying to shove her pram through the fields to get to a baby group when on maternity leave (yes, I was one of those idiots!), so perhaps it’s around 4 years since we last had so much?

School was closed.

And we had to do the thing that everyone loves, but dreads on days like this – work from home!

Yep, both of us, and two children. In the house. Together. All day.

It was interesting.

Not least because Mr O scarpered upstairs at the very first opportunity and spent most of the day on conference calls…Henry dragging up memories of that bloke on the TV whose kids barged in on his television interview when he escaped my clutches as I used the loo and made his way upstairs to declare to Daddy that the “Christmas tree lights are on!” Thankfully that particular conference call was with just one person who totally understood!

The people that heard me shouting about yet another spilled drink probably weren’t so perky about it…oops!

Though I loath to admit it, our children spent pretty much the entire day watching the TV. Something that they never, ever get to do – so much against brain rot are we (usually!).

However, when you’re a working parent, you don’t have an endless supply of holiday days, you don’t have alternative childcare on-hand (aka Grandparents!) and you can’t afford to take the day unpaid – what else are you supposed to do?

There was no way either of us could get into work, and so we were incredibly lucky that we have such understanding workplaces. Not everyone is so lucky.

The anxiety, stress and worry that a day like this puts onto a working parent who doesn’t have the “luxury” of flexible working is palpable. And it shouldn’t be like that. Just because we’re parents doesn’t mean that we stop caring about work – far from it for most people. It makes us even more determined. Makes us want to achieve great things to provide for our children and to prove that we’re so much more than just a parent (although why we feel we have to do that is a different story completely!).

And that’s why I think we should all be supporting Mother Pukka’s #flexappeal campaign, speaking to employers about and requesting flexible working – for all actually, not just parents! To make sure that everyone can comfortably avoid perilous journeys into work on a UK snow day! And not feel bad about having to look after their children and still being able to work!

And then I think maybe, just maybe, even with all the nightmares that it brings, snow isn’t such a bad thing after all?

It got us out into the fresh (bl**dy freezing!) air, spending time together as a family. It was fun and something completely new for both our little ones…

…And snow angels are the most fun thing in the world (when you’re five and you don’t care about getting freezing cold and wet through)!

**Disclaimer – these images were taken on the Sunday before the ‘Working from Home’ Monday. We did work. All day. And didn’t spend the day playing in the snow with the kids! I promise!

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oh christmas tree.

I’ve been obsessed with Christmas trees and decorations for as long as I can remember – but I’m not one of those that puts theirs up in November and feels that Christmas should be all year round (you know who you are!).

Nope.

Christmas is special. And from getting so excited whenever the pink ladders came out and my dad carried our tree down from the loft to unwrapping my mum’s glass baubles and placing them ever so carefully exactly where she told me to (yep – she’s one of those mums!) I have always, always enjoyed the decorating side of things.

Mr O’s family always had a real tree when he was growing up, so as part of our new family tradition we head to Cannock Chase and choose a real tree to bring home.

This year was particularly special for the children (note I say the children – much like sand, I also quite dislike snow!) and I managed not to be the grumpiest Grinch in the forest – until Henry came out from behind a tree covered in mud from digging!

The tree was selected quite quickly this year to my amazement – a 6ft fir just bushy enough to look awesome but not too bushy that we wouldn’t be able to hang anything off it!

And then the decorating fun began!

We bought our first tree from Focus DIY (remember that!), along with the star that we still use every year – long after that artificial bundle of brilliance has gone.

The baubles were bought from B&Q because, well, they just were!

We still use them now, but as the years have gone by (and as the children have come along) our collection of special ornaments has massively increased – so much so that now our tree is pretty much full of personal, individual to us baubles and trinkets that each have a meaning.

Most are from my mum. My wonderful, brilliant mum who buys me a special bauble each year either from a trip we have been on together or one that she has been on with my dad. And so putting them on this year, now that the children can ask questions about where they come from or what they mean, took pretty much a whole afternoon!!

Here’s a glimpse at some of the most special ones…

This is Henry’s. It was on a gift from my parents for his first Christmas. Whenever it comes out I wonder if one day I will give them their baubles – but then I think, nope. They are staying on our tree until the day I pop my clogs…then they can have them!

Father Christmas comes from Villeroy & Boch and was bought for us by Graeme’s Grandma Sylvia. He’s our only ‘traditional’ bauble, and is very special for that reason.

We have eight of these stars scattered around our tree each year. They are from The White Company and were bought for us by Graeme’s Auntie Eileen. She has a knack for finding fantastic gifts – and the fact that you can spritz these with their ‘Winter’ room spray makes them even more special. They make the house smell wonderful.

A personal favourite of mine, this is a Limited Edition Swarovski Christmas bell from 2015 (the year Henry was born). My mum bought it for me. I have to admit, this is the first year I have put it up – simply because I have been too scared to get it out before! The children know not to touch this one!

You can just see Ruby’s 1st Christmas bauble in the background of this shot – she hung this herself this year, it was the first to go on the tree and I love how bright and colourful it is…just like her personality, it really shines through.

Two very different baubles now…a glass hand decorated one from Gisela Graham bought in Liberty London the year that I was pregnant with Ruby and a hand painted bauble from Germany that I love because, when you hang it in front of a light, it looks like the village is all lit up and cosy.

This is my brand new for 2017 bauble! It’s gorgeous isn’t it. Handpainted and all the way from Russia – my mum and dad bought it for me whilst they were on their cruise. Mum said that some of the baubles were so intricate that she couldn’t believe her eyes. I love the way this one twinkles and glistens in the light.

Another of Henry’s baubles – his first Christmas one, bought for him by Graeme’s parents. I love that it has his name, birth weight (shudder!) and his date of birth. The snowman’s cheeky face always makes me laugh too!

Another Gisela Graham number – this time from Fortnum & Mason when me and my mum were on one of our trips to London. And a cheeky Santa dangling behind! This one came from our next door neighbours at our old house. They gave us a number of interesting decorations…this one and a cracker are the ones that made it through to the tree!

Another gorgeous Swarovski bauble from my mum. This one is so pretty and my camera doesn’t do it justice – but it shines and shimmers and with the snow outside today it has really made me feel so totally Christmas-sy!

We’ve also got so many of the children’s handmade decorations on the tree this year, which I just love. They were so proud, getting them out of the box and putting them on the tree.

And once it’s decorated…it is Ruby’s job to put the star on top!
With Daddy’s help of course!

Letting go of control of the decorating, and watching the smiles on their faces was 100% worth it.

And the tree looks pretty darn awesome!

Do you have any special ornaments? How do you decorate your tree? I’d love to know.

Speak soon,
K

the me and mine project.

You know when you spend hours getting lost on the internet? Trawling through blogs, laughing at funny cat videos and eating mini eggs like they’re going out of fashion?

No?

Just me then!?

Judge me not…but I like nothing more than a good Instagram session of an evening, after the ‘winks are in bed and I have dragged my bum into the kitchen to make something for dinner that is!

Last year, probably around June time, I came across a wonderful blog, Tigerlily Quinn, and I loved everything about it (Fritha is so refreshingly fab, you will love her and her posts)…but especially the Me and Mine Project feature.

It’s a very lovely community much like the ‘100 Happy Days’ project of a few years ago (which I embraced like a chocoholic at Easter) where people take at least one photo per month of their entire family…warts and all…and write a post about what they have been up to that particular month.

I instantly wanted to do what I always do…jump on the bandwagon!

Mr O always says that for someone who’s been in marketing for over 10 years I am the biggest sucker her knows.

He’s probably right…but do I actually care?

Nope!

This time around though I took stock (miraculous!) and decided to wait, it was half way through the year…why  start something half way through?

So I waited and waited and bloomin’ well waited some more…and now, it’s the last day of January and I’m ready to jump full force onto that bandwagon that I know I will love so much.

cropped-us.jpg

As a general rule I don’t like photos of myself.

I look like I have no eyes in most of them, and my teeth are a funny colour…so I tend to stick to photos of the babies.

This photo was taken whilst we froze our backsides off in a park in Ashbourne after I dragged us there to visit a shop that ended up being closed…another thing I was lured in by…yes Mr O, you were right again!

Ruby wanted a picnic so we sat on a bench in the park and ate leftover Christmas dinner sarnies and shared a bottle of water (I say shared…I had none after seeing the floaters that Henry had left in the bottle!).

All in all we’ve had a good January…only one or two small boughts of illness (which is amazing for us), and even though it has seriously felt like the longest month on record, it hasn’t been a total let down.

There has been:

  • Fun with grandparents
  • Holiday booking!
  • Crazy work schedules
  • Coming to terms with peach decor…blurgh!
  • Getting back into reading
  • Losing half a stone (no bloomin idea how mind!)
  • Fixing stuff that the mischievous Henry has broken
  • Picking up where I left off with my blog…

Yup, I may dispise winter and January might be the worst month for me but actually, it hasn’t really been that bad…still glad it’s over though!!

I hope that I will be able to look back on this project in years to come and remember a brilliant year, because goodness knows we deserve one.

But enough now of my jabbering, what have you done that you really enjoyed this month? And, more’s the point, do you fancy joining in!?

 

The Me and Mine Project