Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Well, it’s that time of year again where we say goodbye to an old year and ring in a new one. And what a year it’s been in the BattleHousehold. Little did I know this time last year that I’d be in labour in less than 24 hours time and be giving birth to BattleKid on the morning of the 2nd!

From there we entered the rollercoaster that is parenthood and haven’t looked back since. It has been full of highs, a few lows in the early days (I won’t lie, there were tears) but it’s been ram-packed with new and exciting things. That is the joy of parenthood I think. We’ve had those first smiles, the baby talks, the holding our head up on our own. We’ve enjoyed seeing BattleKid learn to sit, crawl, stand and know we are well on our way to walking. We’ve been lucky to only have a few colds this year in terms of illness too.

From a gourmet perspective we’ve entered the world of solids and laughed at some of the faces he has pulled. You know, the ones where he’s thinking “what is this crap you’re putting in my mouth!?”. He’s gone from completely depending on us to becoming a little critter who knows his own mind and isn’t afraid to pull a tantrum when he doesn’t get his own way. He’s moved on from baby rattles and squeaky toys to bigger, better, noisier things.

He’s gone through clothes faster than I can put him in them. His range of wardrobe is bigger than mine, but he can’t beat me on the shoes front! Hearing his baby giggles develop into belly laughs has been thrilling and so much fun. He’s gone from a helpless little baby into a fully interactive human-being and we’ve loved every minute of it. He even started nursery and has settled in very well. The only thing I miss is his gummy smile, but that’s been replaced by vampire baby who is seeing in the new year with no less than 6 teeth!

And as for 2015, well there’s so much coming our way. For a start there’s his first birthday on Friday! We have also got walking, talking properly and moving from the baby room in nursery to the toddler room coming up. We’re looking forward to our family holiday in May where we can enjoy the pool and sun more this year than last. We’re looking forward to family time back home in Ireland and seeing his cousins growing up too (he has two around his own age). And most importantly, we’re looking forward to fun weekends as a family with a little person, who each day becomes a little less of a baby and more of a small toddler! Exciting times ahead indeed.

Have a happy, exciting, fun-filled new year and here’s to a great 2015!

Happy New Year everyone from all of us in the BattleHouse x

Favourite Christmas Song

My all time favourite Christmas song is “Driving home for Christmas”, but it has to be the Chris Rea version. It became even more poignant a few years ago when we went home for Christmas for the first time in 5 years.

BattleDad and I have always enjoyed quiet, relaxing Christmases on our own, locked away from the world. Yet 3 years ago we decided to go home to Ireland for Christmas and spend some time with family. We hadn’t been home in 5 years for Christmas and we had a new nephew to meet so thought it was the perfect time to meet him. We booked the late night ferry for the 23rd, packed the car up full to the brim with presents and as BattleDad had only just gotten home from London that afternoon, I drove us to Rosslare to catch the ferry.

And what should come on the radio as I drove us there……. you guessed it!

Each time I hear it before Christmas while I’m in the car a few tears prickle my eyes and I always think of family and Christmas together. I don’t really miss home all that much during the year, despite living in the UK for more than 10 years now, but this song gets me. Every. Single. Time! I think it sums up what it’s like to head home to family for that special time of year. Unfortunately, this year I have been disappointed as not one radio station that I’ve had on while in the car has played it! It seems to be a rare Christmas song in my opinion.

What’s your favourite Christmas song and why?

Christmas Eve Box

I had never heard of a Christmas Eve Box before reading about it this year on my Birth Club forum on The Baby Centre. As soon as I learned what it was all about I knew I had to get one for BattleKid. Although he is only just coming up for a year old I thought it was a lovely idea for a new tradition that could be continued throughout the years to come. So off I went in search of a box to fill.

There are a number of places on the internet that sell Christmas Eve Boxes but I found mine on Etsy, sold by a seller called Dreamfavours. I did find Etsy had the largest range of Christmas Eve boxes for sale compared to other websites.

Dreamfavours’ box is a well made wooden box that comes in either red or ivory with a felt Santa and reindeer, and has a painted and decorated frame around your child’s name making it lovely and personal. I opted for the smaller Red box which measures 24cm x 24cm x 10cm and for younger children, this size is just right in my opinion. As they suggest, if you are buying for older children or one box for several children, then the Medium box is probably the right one to go for.

BattleKid's Christmas Eve Box
BattleKid’s Christmas Eve Box
Christmas Eve Box and Storybook
Christmas Eve Box and Storybook

So what goes into a Christmas Eve Box? Well, firstly I’m adding a book to it. While I was pregnant in the run up to last Christmas, our bookman in work had the Disney Christmas Storybook for sale and I snapped it up, not knowing at the time it would make a perfect addition to BattleKid’s Christmas Eve Box! It is full of Christmas-themed stories featuring all our favourite Disney characters. This will be making an appearance each Christmas Eve for BattleDad and I to read to the boy!

Next are some small, new decorations for Alexander, aka BattleKid. I am planning on giving him our current Christmas tree all for himself, to decorate as he sees fit and each year he’ll get a new decoration to put on it.

Tree decorations
Tree decorations

This year he has two decorations from his Nana, one of which has been in his box since November, and is a Grandson decoration. We have bought him two, a simple reindeer from Asda and also a personalised decoration from Edge Inspired who also sell through Notonthehighstreet.

The Muppets Christmas Carol DVD
The Muppet Christmas Carol DVD

I have included The Muppet Christmas Carol on DVD which I bought through Amazon. This may change as BattleKid grows up but it is my personal favourite in terms of Christmas films so this year I had to include it. I know it will probably be shown most years on the TV but it might not be on this Christmas Eve and until he decides on his own favourite, it’s staying put!

Mothercare Pyjamas
Mothercare Pyjamas
Boots moccasin slippers
Boots moccasin slippers

As for clothing I’ve put in one pair of pyjamas from a two pack that I bought from Mothercare, along with a pair of moccasin slippers I bought from Boots. I had a few pairs of pyjamas but I thought the Snuggly Penguin ones were ideal for Christmas Eve, whereas some of the others can be worn on Christmas Day for bedtime.

From You to Me Christmas Diary
From You to Me Christmas Diary

Last but not least I have included a “Christmas Present, Christmas Past” diary which can be found on Amazon and on the From You To Me website as well. It  includes enough entry pages for 10 years worth of Christmases and starts with you  documenting Christmas Eve and into Christmas Day with entries such as Where we were, What we ate, Who we celebrated with and What memorable presents we received. It’s a lovely idea to document your first 10 years of Christmases with your child and one I plan to write in every year, starting from this year. Once BattleKid starts school, he can begin to complete the entries himself, with a little help from BattleDad and I.

 

So there you have it, BattleKid’s Christmas Eve Box 2014. His first one for his first Christmas. Do you have a Christmas Eve Box for your child/children? If so, what do you include in it and if it’s different, why not share it with us? It might be something I  haven’t thought of or might be an idea I could borrow for the future!

Christmas Eve Box and contents
Christmas Eve Box and contents

 

Too much or too little?

So far all of my posts have seemed rather short and sweet to me when compared to others out there. However, I’ve put that down to the fact that I’m new to blogging, am trying to find my feet and content, and am sure things will get longer once I have plenty of practise and more to say. But how do you know if the amount you write in a post is too much or too little?

Now in fairness, I have been comparing my piddly little posts to those of more established bloggers who have been at it for years. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to find one recent one that compared length-wise to mine from a long time blogger. Unfortunately I can’t remember who’s it was but seeing what some people include in their posts does worry me. Will I ever get to the stage of writing essays worth of content or will I continue to struggle to write a lot? Do you long-established bloggers just instinctively know how much to write, does it come naturally or are there others out there who only manage a few lines before your posts are finished?

As a reader, what attracts you to reading a blog post? For me, it is the title line and possibly the first few lines that usually attract my attention. It then boils down to length and the actual content. Sometimes a long, overdrawn post can lose my interest quite quickly if it isn’t something I want to read about/know about/learn about. Equally there have been some posts I’ve read that have been short and sweet and have left me wanting more.

As the blogger how do you reach that happy medium? I’m probably worrying over nothing. As a school student, I used to write extremely long essays for my English homework, we’re talking 10-12 A4 pages, back and front and it was no problem bashing these out. However, I always picked a title that grabbed me from the options available and I always did a spider diagram plan for my content before starting. Should I adopt the same thing now? I do wonder how much time I can commit to this type of planning, particularly once I’m back in work full-time after Christmas when my maternity leave ends. I guess my time-management skills will be put to the test even more with regards to my blogging. I don’t want to just write for the sake of it but at the same time I realise that there are things I’d like to share with others, hence the reason behind starting a blog.

I guess time will tell what kind of blogger I become. A short and sweet, to-the-point poster, or one who grows as a writer and blogger and who continues to improve with time and practise. I do hope it is the latter!

Baby clothes: How can they get it so wrong?

For years we women have been complaining about how different clothes sizes are from shop to shop but I never dreamed it would extend to my sons clothes! How wrong was I!

Take the current state of affairs in the BattleHousehold. BattleKid is 11 months old and is in a range of clothing sizes. Some of his bottoms and tops in size 6-9 months (from Next) have only just been retired to the attic, while his sleep suits and vests in size 9-12 months are getting a tad tight in the length, from various retailers such as Primark, Tesco and Matalan. His 9-12 months dungarees suits from all retailers are just fine length wise (and he is a long baby) but they in no way fit him around the crotch area. He keeps popping the buttons! Long sleeved tops are a lovely fit in the body but the arms are too long. Tights-wise (yes I put tights on my son) he wears 12-18 months, while there are one or two tops and hooded tops that are 12-18 months in size and just about fit him. How can this be? Surely there are industry standards that manufacturers must conform to with regards clothes sizes but the difference in sizes from retailer to retailer is astounding!

Children cost enough in clothes as they keep growing and it is simply a fact of life. There is nothing we as parents can do about it, particularly for first-timers. I imagine it’s a bit easier second, third, fourth and so on, time around as you may be lucky enough to have clothes from your first-born that subsequent children can wear but for those of us just starting it out, the costs are something we need to be mindful of. I imagine it is the same for those of you with two children of the opposite sex, or with multiples.

As you can see BattleKid wears a range of clothes from your supermarket brands such as George and F&F to high street retailers such as Primark and Matalan, as well as the occasional item from higher end brands such as Next and Debenhams. I am a serial bargain hunter when it comes to my sons clothes and will often raid the sales aisles looking for the next two sizes up to store for him. It’s what you have to do as a parent to try save where you can. I have two storage boxes where I keep the bigger sizes and when he gets close to moving up a size I go through then to see what I might be lacking. Most of the time it’s nothing thankfully and with browsing the sales I’ve saved money where I can. That’s not to say I haven’t bought him on impulse if I’ve seen something nice, but mostly I’m a saver.

I am also truly grateful to our family who are regularly picking up bits or making things for BattleKid. Take BattleKid’s extremely talented Nan. She is a wiz with knitting needles and has kept him well stocked in cardigans, hats and now mittens-on-a-string as well as blankets for these cold nights. Her talented gifts are known throughout the family as “Nan’s knits” and there is not one of her grandchildren who has not donned many of her creations. To say she has saved us a fortune in knitwear would be an understatement. BattleKid’s Nana has been equally generous. She had to wait almost 14 years between grandson #1 and grandson #2, BattleKid, and she is forever buying bits and pieces for him in the next size up, particularly in those all important sales. I didn’t lick it off a stone!

Equally his aunts have been great. One in particular drove over from Ireland last summer to deposit a load of baby gear she no longer needed, only to find one month after BattleKid was born that she was expecting again. Needless to say some things have made the crossing of the Irish Sea four times! As she hadn’t expected to be having another baby she found herself in the same situation many first-timers do with having to buy everything again and so we’ve reciprocated her generosity and passed back some things along with clothes BattleKid has out grown and also bought her some new things to help out. Her little lad is 10 months younger than BattleKid so I can see the passing down of many items of BattleKid’s to come for a few years yet!

But as already mentioned, the variety of actual sizes within the stated clothing ranges really does boggle the mind. For that very reason I make sure to buy the next size or two up for both BattleKid and anyone we are giving gifts to. You have to, as you just don’t know how quickly a child will grow and, if you stuck to their current size they might outgrow your gift before they even get a chance to wear it!

Do you follow this line of thinking when buying for children, your own in particular? Are you amazed at how one 9-12 months set of clothing fits nicely at 11 months old, while some 6-9 months still have room to grow and other 12-18 moths wouldn’t fit an arm nevermind a child?