Charlie's Bird

living the dream with Charlie and Thandi and chirping all the way back to the nest.

Archive for December, 2014

2014 in review

… so lets do this thing, and review 2014. It’s been a tough year. I have seen tremendous highs, agonizing losses; learnt a lot about myself, and those around me  gained friends, lost some too. It has been a year of hard work.

My main goals and ambitions this year were personal, I set about loosing some weight, getting fit and healthy, and I did that! Loosing about 16kgs, running 5 half marathons, 3 of them trail runs. My most recent health checks have been all good! Saying that, my journey is not yet complete.

I experienced some breath taking things – not least of which is the daily journey my daughter takes me on. Watching her grow and develop this year has been incredible. She has so enjoyed her time at playschool, made lots of friends and is growing into a kind and sweet little girl. It has been awesome seeing things through her eyes – Table Mountain and its dassies, ziplining, her excitement over Christmas and all it meant. Just wonderful.

Above all, this year has taught me that I am nothing if not tenacious (Gee, wonder where Thandi gets that stubborn streak from) I set my mind to my goals, and I chased them. I probably offended some people and friends along the way, and I am quite sad that the year did become quite a solitary one for me. But I plumbed some of my depths, and I think that was good. I started the year very down and in fact, depressed. I was determined to run and eat myself healthy, and I largely did. My darkness looms large every now and again – it’s looming again, despite the fact that I have so many blessings…

My wish for all of us this coming year is that we all find our happiness, our joy. And that we find it within ourselves. I know things and people can’t make me happy, I alone am responsible for that. It’s a huge responsibility, because so many people rely on me to be well adjusted and functioning well, but it is mine alone. I hope you also find that joy in this coming year.

 

 

 

Introducing Mungo

…so for my South African readers, who may not be as familiar with the elf on the shelf concept, let me summarise. Santa is one busy guy, and he finds it hard to keep an eye on all the children, so he sends his scout elves out into the world, they come and settle in your home, and keep an eye on the children, watching them through the day, and flying back to Santa with a report in the night, using their magic. Every morning it is great fun to see what the elf has gotten up to in the night. There is one rule, and that is that you are not allowed to touch the elf during the day, because then he looses his magic and cannot fly back to Santa and tell him what presents you asked for.

This year was the first year I introduced Mungo to Thandi. It worked extremely well, to keep her in line through the day – “Mungo is watching, he’ll tell Father Christmas if you don’t bath/wash hair/don’t listen/don’t pick up your toys etc…” And I have to say it was fun finding all sorts of different things for him to get up to

We started with Mungo arriving in Thandi’s Christmas stocking

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The next night we had our Christmas cocktail party, and Mungo got stuck into the wine

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He then decided to hang out with the Bride and Groom cake toppers

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Night 4 had him migrate to the freezer, and get stuck into the ice cream (It reminds him of the North Pole, you see) 032

Then things got a bit PG, with him getting caught hot tubbing with Rosetta, naughty elf! 015

He then decided to practice him gymnastics and was swinging in the Christmas tree.

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He high jumped the other mini Christmas tree (or is that more of a pommel horse manoeuvre?)

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He also decided to pinch Jesse’s (the toy story cow girl) hat, and came in riding the reindeer, with a bag of sweeties for Thandi.

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Nearing the end of his stay, he tried some fishing above the TV, Discovery channel was on! 033

And for his grand finale, he strummed a few tunes on the guitar, and because Thandi had been such a good girl, Santa let him bring a night before Christmas pressie for her – in it were 2 story books, some socks and the cutest Santa slippers!

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We made some good magic for the girl!

And so…

…that was Christmas. And this year, it was good. I chose to be calm and relaxed, roll with the punches and just enjoy. As one of my sisters-in-law said, “Ah, you’re all grown up!” It was wonderful, noisy, messy, crazy and just so special.

Christmas Eve was a busy day. I worked hard at finishing things – wrapping gifts (note to self, wrap as you buy next year!), decorating tables, finishing off food preparation, I even got a run in with TAFKAD. My brother was due to arrive on Christmas Eve, but only getting out of work at 15h00 does not make for a safe journey, so he slept over on the way arriving on Christmas morning, so I got my nieces for another special evening. I loved having them staying with me! And then, after all that wrapping, after putting out a mince pie for Santa, carrots for the reindeer, making sure Thandi was fast asleep; we played Santa, leaving her sack of gifts at the bedside; and then we collapsed in heaps!058  065

Christmas day began at 05h00! With Thandi realising that Father Christmas had been. She found a Santa sleigh bell, and used that to wake her special cousins up, saying that they must wake up! Father Christmas had come, they had to come and see! 067We opened some of her gifts, and then after tea and mince pies, we headed off to do one of the local park runs, only to discover that I had got the time wrong, because they ran earlier than normal. Anyway, we headed back home, got dressed and ready for our special family time. I had, I think, about 20 guests! My family, my aunt and cousin, Charlie’s mom, uncle, sister and nephew and my special German friends. What fun! I allowed everyone to help with food. T made a gorgeous gazpacho, my sister-in-law presented a lovely antipasti platter. Mains was also a coloration – I did a brined turkey (yum!) and roast potatoes, my mom did a gammon, and then everyone chipped in with salads. The meal was delicious! I think everyone ate well! Pudding followed with a trifle, a fruity pavlova and a strawberry dream. After a pause to breathe, I set up a cheese board that everyone could help themselves to, and a cake table – traditional Christmas cake, a stolen, mince pies, a gingerbread star tree, fudge, Christmas pudding truffles and M contributed nusseken. I then even let everyone help clean up! (seriously, that is unheard of in my home!) Everyone rolled home well after 6pm, and we collapsed into companionable quiet digestion! 106 114098

My girl was so spoilt, but she really had the best day, between the coolest gifts, all her cousins and her friend Charlotte spending the day with us… she loved it! And best of all, she had a relaxed happy mom! 119

Christmas baking

… is just wonderful! It’s no secret that I love baking. Cooking, in general, but like most little girls I learnt to make biscuits and cakes and sweet treats first, so those delicious bits have a special place in my heart. This year is no exception, I love Christmas baking, however, this year I have been stretched for time, and wish I could have had more time to spend relaxed in the kitchen, not a bit overwrought and tired, because my baking was happening late at night. Anyway, So this year I have made a Christmas fruit cake, a qarkstollen, fudge and gingerbread men so far. There are a few things I’d still like to make, but fear I’m out of time, but I hope to get another batch of fudge done and a batch of choc chip cookies. I also would like to make some Christmas pudding truffles, considering that I don’t have Christmas pud on my menu this year, but it will all depend on time!

I’m a big fan of seasonal eating, so really wouldn’t eat any of these things at other times of the year, a bit like hot cross buns are just for Easter, eating the first on the morning of Good Friday. With the retailers cashing in on our tastes and proclivities, lots of the seasonal food really has lost its charm; hot cross buns becoming spicy buns sans cross for the rest of the year. It’s a bit sad, really.

Saying that, it is almost time for all this feasting and celebrating. The rest of my family are slowly trickling into town. It’s really nice coming together. As always, a few nerves and anxieties exist, but I trust that the spirit of the season will override any of the old issues that always exist within families. It will be good. I promise to relax and enjoy the time, and make it spectacularly special for Thandipants! I will not be a martyr, I will ask for help, and graciously receive it. Let Christmas come!

Workers be working

…crikey, I had a busy weekend on call! The busiest in months! 4 babies, lots of phone calls and emergency call outs, a gynae operation (seldom happen after hours, but did this time) and interrupted sleep. And throw in Christmas preparation, a wedding anniversary and my nieces’ arrival. Phew! I am shattered!

The week ahead is going to be busy too. There is a lot to do! And I’ll say it again, if only I could have 6 more hours a day!!!! Dessert to make, biscuits to bake, turkey to brine. Phew! Oh well, with 2 teenage nieces, I’ll have some helpers and have some fun and games! I also really need to get some runs in, my brain and butt are suffering for the lack of them.

So Christmas menu wise, I think we are all under control – gazpacho and bruschetta to start, with an antipasti platter, turkey, gammon , roast potatoes and salads for mains, and dessert consisting of pavlova, trifle and strawberry dream (a famous birdie family dessert – like a strawberry ice cream) Yum. I will also have a platter of deliciousness – traditional fruit cake, stollen, mince pies and Christmas pudding chocolates. The children I suspect will pull their noses up at most of that, but us grown ups can indulge. The house smelt all gorgeous and delicious yesterday, while I baked the stollen, all lemony and sweet. Christmas scents!

 

The Christmas crazies

…flip! I love Christmas, and everything it means; time with friends and family, good celebrations, special memories, but the crazies have hit and I am feeling every so slightly crazy! Last night I was fiddling with a couple of craft projects – I cut out some bunting that now just needs sewing together, T and TAFKAD and I made some wrapping paper, and I sorted out some of the gifts. Crikey! Thandipants must have been a very very good little girl! Santa has a lot of gifts for her! Lucky fish! Anyway. The sum of all my sorting was that there are about 3 people who still need a gift from me, so I will work on that today, and take it from there! Let the good times roll!

This weekend I will finalise the food, and bake some Christmas biscuits. TJ and I are also going to look for a recipe for Stollen, and give our Christmas feast a European flair! Looking forward to some kitchen fun time!

Photo shoot

So 2 weeks ago, we did a photo shoot with the very talented chap who took our wedding photos. I don’t think he actually does much private work anymore, he’s  busy photojournalist at the local rag, but every year when I call and ask, he agrees to take some pictures. And are they worth it! They are spectacular! ALAN6089 ALAN6182 ALAN6188 ALAN6219 ALAN6228 ALAN6370 ALAN6392 ALAN6435 ALAN6459 ALAN6506 ALAN6582 ALAN6662 ALAN6692 ALAN6739 ALAN6759 For the first time I am unmasking myself on this blog. So now you know what I look like!