It’s Christmas!

The shopping is done, my home is full, I’ve even wrapped all the presents, it’s officially Christmas.

Now that school is finished and husband is off work for Christmas and New Year it feels like Christmas has really begun. I’ve eaten mince pies and squirty cream and Christmas pudding. Yesterday I made festive hot chocolates with cream and marshmallows and a flake. Christmas tunes have been bellowing out through the Alexa.

As we are going to my mother in law’s for our Christmas dinner feast, and to my sister in law’s for Christmas Eve -and both will feed us well- I’ve only had to buy food and snacks for the periphery days we’re home. The snack cupboard is bulging. I even went all out and bought us a cheese board which felt like a luxury just for us two.

Time to relax…

December has truly flown by and it’s taken me a bit aback this year. I know how December usually goes for me – I get a bit gloomy as the days get darker, I long for snow all month, and get fed up of Christmas songs by the 2nd week. I never drink on Christmas Day and yet it always flies by in a blur. In the evening I fridge surf for left overs even though I’m still stuffed from dinner. Boxing Day is always a hang over even if not alcohol induced. I mourn the fleeting merriment of Christmas and, the equivalent of having a wedding every year on Dec 25th, it seems asinine to have put so much effort into one short day. This is the general lay out of Christmas for me. December can be emotional.

However, this year in the blink of an eye The-Big-Day is only 4 days away and I haven’t even had time to become sick of Noddy Holder. I wonder if it is because I am getting older and time just goes by that much quicker now. That’s a scary thought!

Anyway, I am truly looking forward to Christmas. The overall plan this year is to kick back and chill out. Quality family time is at the top of both mine and Rich’s list. I love getting out and visiting friends and family but it is something very special to have our cosy little nest to return home to, especially on these dark evenings.

I’m hoping to spend some time reading over the next few days and maybe writing too. I love Christmas telly, and I’m definitely not dieting. I’m going full on hedonist like Roman style feast level. Give me all the cheese. I’m most looking forward to the kids opening their presents, that’s the best part by far. They are so excited this year!

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, with people that you love. I pray that you feel loved and look to the new year 2019 with hope and curious anticipation. Merry Christmas!

Why is Dad So Cool?

Looking on as my husband played on the floor of our living room with my toddler I felt a pang of jealousy. ‘Dad is the best’ I could imagine my son saying when he’s older, ’he’s so much fun!’ But what about Mum? And why do the things I do for our family seem to remain under the radar?

What Rich was actually doing was a great job of distracting our poorly boy from his nausea with a game of cars. My 2-year-old son had a sickness bug and this was the perkiest he had been all morning. Over and above that sly pang of jealousy what I felt was primarily love but also admiration. As his dad, Rich understood how he could connect with our little boy on his level.


Play 

Play is the most direct way to connect with any child. What looked like a quiet came of toy cars on the living room floor was actually so much more. It was momentary respite for our son from his illness. It was a way of showing him love and helping him to feel safe. Also, we were both unobtrusively assessing him too. Checking while he played how weak or tired he was, his concentration level, his communication, whether he showed signs of confusion etc.

Whilst I had done the majority of the caring work, like emptying the sick bucket and the boil washes, it was the game of cars that seemed to be the best healer at that moment. It was a relief to see my son playing because it was nice to see him happy and it also signalled to an imminent recovery.


‘…there aren’t so many stock images available of mums loading the washing machine with the uniforms while their kids look on fondly.’

Caring

It made me think about how awesome dads are. Scenes of dads with their kids on their shoulders, both laughing loudly, flicked through my mind. Slow-mo images of dads throwing their kids in the air to catch them as they giggled, playing fire engines making all the loud noises, running around a soft play. But what about mums? Well mums do all those things too. Just this week I jumped into a soft sponge pit and landed in something ominously wet while playing with my toddler at pre-school gymnastics. Mums do fire engine noises too. But there aren’t so many stock images available of mums loading the washing machine with the uniforms while their kids look on fondly.

While I don’t necessarily relish doing laundry or making meals,I do absolutely love feeling that I have done something good for my family. When I get to wrap them up after their bath in a lush smelling big fluffy towel, I feel awesome that that will be a part of their memories of their childhood. When they look back and remember that there was always food being made for them by one of us, that makes me feel awesome. When they look back and realise that having ironed clean uniform was just one less thing that they had to worry about I will know it is because of our dedication as parents, and that makes me feel awesome.

Strengths

I guess we all have to play to our strengths and in my family that means Rich does more of the car noises and I do more of the meal planning. Sometimes I am the fun mum who gets on the trampoline and dad is the one who no-one has noticed has ironed the shirts for the week but in general dad is upfront and I’m in the back covering the rear. Or maybe underneath laying foundations? And that is why I’m going to have to get used to the ‘Dad is so fun,he’s awesome’ comments and wait a few years for my ‘thanks for looking after us all mum, you’re awesome’ ones.

I am so grateful to have Rich as my children’s father. He genuinely is such an amazing dad (so he deserves all the praise he gets!). That meme about loving your partner more when you see them as your co-parent is so true. Both of us had absent fathers growing up in some way or another and I think that has helped to make us both more determined to be the best parents we can be. I just wanted to say I recognise that there are a lot of parents out there who are doing both roles at once. They have no choice but to be cool fun mum and background caring mum all at once and with little to no support.

Families

All families are awesome however they are made up. With dad or without dads. This post is a comment on how the role of dad is portrayed and how sometimes my family happens to fall into that tired old stereotype and how sometimes that works for us and that is OK too.

How does your family work? Do you find it’s different in different situations?

If you liked this one you might also like https://katelili.com/cradle-cap-green-skin-and-shaving-my-head/

Travel wish-list for a mum and daughter break.

When I was pregnant with my brown-eyed-girl, Beg, I prayed over her a lot, as I did with my son too. One of the things that I found I regularly prayed for her was that she would get to travel, and that she would have the freedom to travel safely. Now she’s a bit bigger and full of wonder at the world there are so many things I’d love to show her and to experience with her. We’ve taken her on a few holidays and she is an amazing traveller. So here is a list of places I’d like us to see together or things I’d like us to do together.

10 places to visit

1. Hawaii

Hawaii has always been in my top 5 of dream destinations anyway, but I especially would love to see Beg’s face when we’re given a flower garland when we get to our hotel. I’d also love to go to a traditional Haitian themed night with dancing and fire breathing. A trip to see a volcano would be pretty awesome too. Obviously now Moana has shown us a little of Island life so my daughter will have an idea of what to look forward to.

10 places to visit

2. Iceland

Hotels made entirely of ice and hot springs to bathe in and only about a 2 hour flight.The northern lights would be an added bonus. I’d like to take her in their summer when it is light for almost a full 24hrs.

10 places I'd like to visit

3. Amsterdam

We can fly to Amsterdam in an hour from Bristol. One Hour! I feel silly that I’ve never been! I want to go in Autumn and hire bikes to cycle some of the canals together. Oh and buy a Hygge candle each before we leave. Staying well clear of the red light district though eh.

10 places I'd like to visit

4. Japan

I just want to show her the crowds of people. I’ve seen pics of those giant zebra crossings and I’d like to go. We will have to go in summer to see the cherry blossom trees, eat fish or dumplings at a street stall and see all the different girls fashions. Beg would absolutely *love* all the fashions.

10 places I'd like to visit

5. Skiing

This is a cheat one because it would be better with all of us. I think my whole family would enjoy a skiing holiday but perhaps when my little boy is older and can join in too. All kids love snow!

Sea Turtle

6. Greece

Specifically Zakynthos. I went there on a holiday with a friend when I was 19 and I was bowled over by the natural beauty. We went on an excursion and saw dolphins swimming alongside the boat. The sea is so clear and you can go across to Kefalonia for a day trip which is the setting of one of my favourite books ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ If we go in September we might spot some turtles too.

10 Places I'd like to visit

7. Pompeii

This is a selfish one, I just want to go to see it. I’ve heard you can take a train from Sorrento which looks beautiful. Exploring around the hilly streets of Sorrento enjoying gelato, pizza, and coffee just sounds lush.

10 places I'd like to visit

8. Barcelona

A couple I met in Spain when I was working as a rep were singing the praises of Barcelona. I’ve looked it up since and it seems to be a real centre of culture and art. I’d love to take my daughter to show her the famous architecture. I actually found a stunning air bnb there during one of my fantasy travel planning sessions. It was an apartment that was in a a period building right across from the sagrada familiar, the famous church designed by Gaudi. It was all high ceilings, old furniture and house plants. I heart Air bnb.

Travel mum and daughter

9. Stockholm

Did you know that Stockholm is built on 14 islands? How cool is that! We can have Fika and eat meatballs, take in some culture, and see what it feels like to be in a city that genuinely welcomes families. The bus is free if you are travelling with a buggy! 

I love looking online at possible dream travel destinations. Air bnb really have some unique places available to rent. This post is not sponsored at all I just really enjoy imagining all the places we can visit. I took my daughter to Paris in summer to show her the Eiffel Tower. She has it on a canvas in her bedroom and I hope the trip has inspired her to think these places are at her fingertips not just on posters. Have you been to any of these places? What did you think? 

Things To Do In Paris With Kids

Paris is so beautiful, and only just over an hour flight from Cardiff. I took my eight-year-old to see it and not only was I taken aback at how beautiful a city it is but I was also genuinely surprised at how much there is to do in Paris with kids.

  1. Air Bnb experiences

Most people are quite au fait (a little French there) with using Air Bnb now for accommodation but have you ever looked at their experiences? From intimate jazz performances at secret locations only disclosed on the night to wine tasting tours, Air Bnb experiences are a great way to find something unique. Listed among them are a few walking tours of Paris especially for families and groups with children. We did one of these and our tour guide was a nanny so she knew how to engage with my daughter and really help her feel immersed in the surrounding culture of Paris and comfortable to ask questions. We visited a playground by the canal and at the end of the tour an ice cream was included for her at the famous ice cream shop Berthillon.

Eiffel Tower Paris

  1. See the Eiffel Tower at night.

Be the best parent ever and let them stay up past their bedtime. Plan an evening visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower. At dusk the lights switch on which casts a lovely old-fashioned type of yellow glow over the tower and then every hour on the hour there is a magnificent light show. We visited Paris in the summer and dusk was around 9.30pm. At 10pm the tower sparkled with crystal white lights. Groups of people lounged on the grass in the Champs De Mars (the garden in front of the Eiffel Tower). A busker played guitar and a warm breeze blew while people picnicked and drank wine. The ambience was exquisite and a loud cheer erupted when the tower lit up. An experience not to be missed.

  1. Get an aerial view

Save money by booking tickets ahead of time online for Montparnasse tower and wow the kids when they see it’s outdoor observation deck. See if they can feel the lift moving as it ascends 56 floors in 38 seconds and get a stunning 360° view of the city of light. Top tip-visit Montparnasse tower at the end of your Paris trip and use the information boards to pick out all the places you have been to.

Montparnasse tower Paris

  1. Museums and Art

Paris is stuffed to the brim with art galleries and museums. The world-famous Louvre is a building unlike any they will have previously experienced. The Pompidou centre is a modern art gallery and has all it’s pipes and escalators on the outside of the building. If you fancy showing them works by Picasso, the Musee D’Orsay is a good bet. Along the Seine is the Jardin Des Plantes which has plants from all over the world and it is free to walk through. And the fashion museum is within walking distance of the natural history museum.

 5. Time to play

We were only there for two nights and we went to two different play parks. They are dotted throughout the city. There is one at the back of Notre Dame cathedral which was a nice shady spot for some respite from the city busy-ness. There is an urban beach which is put up every summer. We missed it unfortunately but this could be a good pit stop for children to take a break.

General Tips for Enjoying Paris with Kids.

Travel

You can buy Metro tickets at any Metro station. The machines are really easy to use and have a translate to English button on them. Buy a carnet of 10 tickets for travel all across Paris on the Metro and buses for around €13.90. Children’s tickets are half price. I had to use my card which incurred a 40p charge for using it abroad. Or you can go to the booth.

When in Paris

Give your kids a couple of French phrases for them to try out. My daughter heard me saying ‘merci’ when buying things and began to use it as well. She gained confidence as people responded to her in French.

Notre Dame Paris with kids

Walking our tour guide’s dog along the River Seine toward Notre Dame

Safety

I left my two-year-old at home with his dad and I was glad I didn’t take him along on our trip. Paris is a very busy city even in August when a lot of Parisians leave for most of the month. There are lots of busy roads. Some road crossings are light marshalled but some are not. I noticed a lot of spots where I felt thankful I did not have an active toddler in tow such as along the river Seine where there were big drops off into the river with no railings or barriers. Saying that if you are comfortable in London with a toddler you’d be fine in Paris too.

Check out our vid of our 2 night trip to Paris here.

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things to do in Paris with kids

Comfortably Married Isn’t Always Boring

Something really sad just happened. Sad as in the middle-aged way of saying something is ‘not cool’. I had waited for Rich to get home from work to go and fill up the car and go through the car wash (baby doesn’t like the car wash). When he got home we were deciding who should mow the lawn. I said ‘I’ll be all hot and sticky for my date with the car wash’ ‘Your date with Carlos?’ Rich replied ‘I wish!’ I said and we both laughed. The sad bit is, we both laughed.

From sharing a joke about casual infidelity to conversations about mowing the lawn, we couldn’t get any more comfortably married. He does the bins, I do my daughter’s hair for school. We are the average stereotypical married couple, and there’s no escaping it.

The Romance is Dead

What does that mean? Basically when you’ve been married for 10 years, you kind of get used to each other. If that sounds really boring, it’s because it is, for the majority of the time. The romance is officially dead. The Valentine’s day candle lit dinners and public declarations of love are at least. But I never counted that as romance anyway. It’s easy to adorn someone new with praise and admiration. If Rich confessed his undying love for me on Facebook I’d comment asking why he didn’t say it to my face.

Married

The thing about long time stereotypical marriage, is that although it can be boring, when it rocks it rocks big time. Nothing comes close to the feeling of someone knowing you so well. Someone who loves you enough to take care of things when you’re sick or who gets as excited as you about your personal goals. It’s the in jokes shared between just us two, the history, the shared stories, the knowing each other inside and out and the anticipation of the years ahead to continue getting to know each other. I would never trade all that for the initial lust of the beginning.

Beware of the Receptionists

I don’t really bang on about how great marriage is because I know people don’t want to hear it. It’s not cool or ‘in’ and people assume I’m promoting one way of life over another. That’s not what I’m saying here at all. Also, I feel like it could be thrown in my face at any minute. What if when the kids leave home we don’t have anything to talk about? Or he decides his receptionist is sexy and I end up on the singles market aged 50? I can’t say that’s never going to happen but I can enjoy the now. The the security of the banal texts saying ‘please put my wash on spin’ and sending photo messages of our kids being cute together because he’s the only other person in the world who cares about them as much as me. Close friends know it’s not always perfect, and it’s highly probably there will be more to face in the future. But I feel like God is saying to me ‘ENJOY’! Enjoy where you are, right now. Enjoy the familiarity, the security, the shared dark humour. Enjoy it for what it is today, not for what might be tomorrow.

Roots

There’s a bit about being comfortably married in ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ which I chose as a reading for our wedding. I had read this book not long before we got married and was quite taken with it. The extract is a part of the book where Pelagia’s father is talking to her about love. These are her father’s words of wisdom to her on the subject.

‘Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.  And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is.

Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being in love, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground, and, when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches, they find that they are one tree and not two.’

Louis de Bernieres

If you liked this one, you’ll love this one about our kind-of-awkward date night.

Date Night