Chapter 27-All I Want For Christmas

It may have only packed a 16k punch. It may have meant holding a tape recorder above my head for 10 minutes to upload a game because the cables didn’t reach. But at the risk of showing my age, the greatest Christmas gift I received as a child was a Sinclair Spectrum.

After months of being told by my parents I had as much chance of getting a computer as getting a Barbie, I was convinced that I would only ever see one while being dragged past a shop window, let alone play on one.

I never got a Barbie, but after months of wearing the keys out playing Hungry Horace, it didn’t seem to matter anymore.

Happily for Raffie, this year’s list was far simpler. All he asked for was a new teddy bear. And who knows if we might have got away with one gift, but in the end he took three days to open his presents. Not because they filled the entire house, but because each and every one was carefully considered and played with, before overwhelming him completely and having to go to bed.

Present 1
He loves his new kitchen, and has spent days making cups of tea and plates of plastic food for anyone passing by.

The joy of unwrapping.

The joy of unwrapping.

The joy of a new kitchen.

The joy of a new kitchen.

“I said I wanted a teddy bear” he squeaked, pulling it out of his stocking, “but why has Father Christmas given me an orange?” “Umm, because he likes fruit Raffie,” was the best answer I could come up with when pressed, recalling the days of fishing one out of my own stocking on Christmas Day morning.

Unsurprisingly, and on the edge of the new year, Raffie asked when Father Christmas could come again. “I want him to bring more presents Mummy.”

I have a feeling that it will take a lot less time to open them next year.

And while he’ll have substantially more things on his Christmas list than a teddy bear from this point on, I am keeping my fingers crossed he’ll have a Spectrum moment of his own in years to come.

If not, I’ll have to get mine down out of the attic.

Happy New Year everyone, thank you so much for reading my blog during 2013, and we wish you all a happy and prosperous 2014.


Chapter 26-I Believe in Farmer Christmas

A wise woman once told me that assume makes ‘an ass of you and me’. And when it came to a toddler at Christmas, she remains right in every sense.

Raffie is two years and eight months. So I reckoned we had some time to go before he knew the meaning of Christmas, but assume has indeed made an ass of me and the excitement has been mounting with each passing day.

Raffie eyeing up the baubles.

Raffie eyeing up the baubles.

Forget the presents, forget the baubles, Raffie is too busy waiting for Farmer Christmas. I am half expecting a man in Wellies to arrive in a four by four but I have been assured, rather irritably, that this is not the case Mummy.

“I don’t want it to be autumn any more,” said Raffie, after many weeks of talking about why leaves fall off the trees and we are living in apparent constant darkness. “I want it to be Christmas. Farmer Christmas will come down the chimney and leave some presents.” “Have you been a good boy though Raffie?” “No.”

And so to the question of what we leave for him. When I was little we didn’t bother with milk and cookies, we left a tumbler filled with whisky and a mince pie.

So last night, Raffie decided that Farmer Christmas should enjoy a bottle of wine and a mince pie. This morning, it was a bottle of beer and a mince pie. And a carrot of course for Rudolph. In a house now resembling Santa’s workshop, I have a feeling they’ll arrive shortly after we have spent some time preparing some special items for Christmas too.

Raffie tree

As Raffie will no doubt be beside himself by bed-time, assume will still be making an ass of me. But I think I am right in that whenever Farmer Christmas arrives, and whatever he leaves behind, he’ll be just as grateful for a brief sit down with glass in hand, and just as hopeful of a Christmas to remember. For all the right reasons.

So Merry Christmas everyone, hope you have a wonderful time! x

Chapter 25-Song of a Baker

“Mummy put my imagination away Daddy.”

It’s hard to know how to reason with a two-year-old and such an accusation, but despite my obsession with putting things away I think this is a little unfair.

Maybe it was a mis-spent maternity leave watching every single episode of Come Dine With Me with a sleeping baby. Or it could have been napping in front of Saturday Morning Kitchen before discovering the delights of a different kind in the world of CBeebies.

Whatever has inspired it, Raffie has developed a passion for baking, and a feast of delights for his imagination.

Getting stuck into biscuits.

Getting stuck into biscuits.

I am not blessed with culinary finesse, but have managed to master a very simple recipe for biscuits Raffie has been excited to discover that just one egg can make at least 25 cookies.

“I want to roll Mummy” has mixed results, with biscuit dough ending up stuck to the rolling pin, his hair, and remarkably his tummy, though I still don’t know quite how.

Deep in concentration.

Deep in concentration.

The transition between cookie cutter and baking tray is a treacherous path, with Christmas trees turned into slug shapes, heads being pulled off fish shapes and melancholy crescent moons with eyes jabbed into them.

But after a desperately impatient 12 minutes in the oven, the end result is always met with delight.

Raffie is unable to contain himself when it comes to icing, and while he works away I pull it out of the carpet, out of the upholstery and again, out of his hair, but icing biscuits keeps him in the same place for longer than anything else-even buskers.

Raffie loves icing biscuits, the plate underneath them, and anything else which is close to hand. Sugary snowflakes are piled up onto different parts of the plate and Raffie’s cup runneth over with sprinkles in handfuls. Old bananas are turned into banana tea bread, Raffie mashing away cheerfully before smothering them with flour and sugar, and helping me pour the mix into a loaf tin.

The finished product.

The finished product.

So I am always surprised that despite creating nearly 30 oddly shaped delicacies, or an economical cake, most of it stays in the box or is given away to his nearest and dearest. And it’s a shame they aren’t snapped up straight away as they are usually pretty tasty.

It may be messy, but Raffie’s love of baking is a welcome addition when the days are short and cold. But given the labour of loves that he leaves behind, he’s clearly not a boy who likes to have his cake and eat it just yet.

Bake 5

Chapter 24-Something to Sing About

“What do you do with a Drunken Grandad Mummy?” is never an easy question to answer.

And it was at this point I realised why Raffie’s baby group stuck to “What do you do with a bouncing baby” rather than ‘drunken sailor’ during song time when he was just a tiny tot.

But despite the difficult questions, by going rogue and returning to the original lyrics, Raffie is not only a new found fan of the Fisherman’s Friends but is also very intrigued by the concept of how having too much to drink can make you fall over.

Continuing with the maritime theme, the theme song for Swashbuckle (as seen on CBeebies) is rather more of a challenge but one that Raffie has risen to admirably, while also inventing a mash up of Fish Alive and Jingle Bells.

Raffie tries out a real lifeboat, fortunately in its lifeboat house.

Raffie tries out a real lifeboat, fortunately in its lifeboat house.

While a tiddler, Raffie loved bobbing around in his car seat on long journeys. Now he is desperate to understand their meaning. When Florence and the Machine wrote Dog Days are Over, they may not have realised that one day a small boy called Raffie would rename it as the Clapping Song.

Now the music Daddy once enjoyed listening to peacefully in the car has been given added value with humming and clapping and a scream of ‘not yet Daddy, I clap now!’ when it’s not quite right.

Raffie has also declared that we can no longer pass a busker without putting some money in the hat, which has made him the friend of every passing musician trying to keep warm with a guitar or a whistle.

Never leave home without your maracas.

Never leave home without your maracas.

Although it’s costing me a fortune, his love of street songs is also developing more appreciation for his recorder, his guitar, and of course, his maracas.

Singing is helping him find out about concepts you’re perhaps never too young too learn, such as the consequences of piracy and drunkenness. And whatever it sounds like, anything which helps him explore new ideas while having fun shaking his maracas, is music to my ears.

Raffie swings along to Singin' in the Rain.

Raffie swings along to Singin’ in the Rain.