The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

2017 Year End Reflections

Yet another year is drawing to a close.

I remember thinking at the start of this year that big changes were ahead. I thought it would be a year of progress and taking charge of areas that I felt I had lost my grip of in 2016. I was thinking mostly about the work life balance I had going on after a return to full time employment with three young children in a new and very different work culture. A lot of hours in the office and out of it, a lot of energy fretting about work and feeling a disproportionate level of satifisfaction at the end of it. I knew I needed to gain a better perspective this year and get back to doing the things that I enjoyed the most.

I wanted this year to be about the good stuff. More time for people, more running, more baking, more crafts and more attempts at aspiring to an aesthetically pleasing home. These were simple changes that I could make and feel all the better for it. I do believe we have a responsiblity to ourselves to be the change we want to see happen.

I felt ready for change. And so when Husband and I first spoke about leaving Singapore to return back to the UK, it felt both the right move and time but albeit quite a daunting one too. Finally, we were heading back to the UK. It was exciting to think about being with family and friends and getting to know all the new additions and reconnecting in new ways. Going on different kinds of holidays and introducing the children to favourite pastimes and places of our youth.

After living in Singapore for nine years, the life we had over there was our normal. I knew how everything worked. I did not know how everything worked over here. And not knowing how things work can make you feel quite vulnerable. Knowledge is power so they say. Setting up a new home on my own was hard work and running it almost like a single parent has taught me new skills and found reserves of energy I knew I had and most definitely need.

There are days where I miss my old life that I used to get ribbed for. The one where we have live in help who helped with all the household jobs. I appreciated her then and I miss her a little bit now but I do enjoy having the whole home to myself. And there is also something soothing about doing laundry and ironing. In times where you have no control, you at least can make clothes look like new and have a fresh, clean bed to sleep in which is satifyingly pleasing. There is no denying that I miss the freedom though of having someone on hand who can look after the children whilst I just pop out. Though at the moment there is no one to just pop out with!

Some of these changes I expected. I wasn’t completely unnerved by the big move back to the UK. I don’t really think too much. I know! I know you know that too. Such a move is managed through doing. You have to set up a new home, get into the school routine, go out and find new friends, do the household jobs. These are the things you have to do to take care of your family and their basic needs. And if I don’t know the answers right away, I’m also not afraid to ask for help and that is important too.

You also need to explore and connect. Explore your new surroundings, find things to do,  go places. Connect with people, be it family or friends and connect with your new home town. Be present. I find this an ever important aspect right now. I don’t think there’s much to be gained from wishing to be anywhere else but here. Especially when there are young children involved who have no say in what happens and it is up to us to give them as many good memories and experiences as possible.

We would have preferred coming back to the UK as a whole family and not with Husband still working overseas. We are also not unique in this set up. I know plenty of people who are in my position and I know we are all more than up for the challenge. There have been times when I have felt out of my depth but I hope I am managing ok. It is overwhelming at times being the sole, responsible grown up taking the lead and being all things to three young children. We are all in this new adventure together but often you have to appear braver than you feel. I have also had to push myself with going to new places that I’m not familiar with. I know it has been hard on the children and they miss their Daddy terribly, as he does them. So it was good that we were able to share our first family snow day experience together. After years of looking forward to snow, they finally had their day building snowmen and sledging. My heart will always feel some guilt that they’ve had to bear some of my sadness these past few months without Husband around to comfort them too. But they are incredible children and can teach us a thing or two about getting on with things. In time, I hope they will remember and feel incredibly proud of themselves of how brave and strong they are and what a bundle of love and comfort they have to give.

As a couple, I also know how difficult it must be for Husband to watch from afar as we get through this time and not be here to provide the emotional support that we all need. The difference his presence has made over the Christmas holidays has been the tonic we have needed.

The events of this year has certainly put last year into perspective. With hindsight, I allowed some people’s behaviour to get the better of me. I doubt I could have changed it then but I am in a position today to let it wash over me. I do not dwell on the value I gave myself based on their words and actions which by all accounts are worthless and is a reflection of them and not me. It was a valuable lesson and reminder about what our roles as mentors should be.

You all know what the biggest change and challenge this year has been for me and my family. Bereavement is a necessary part of life. I keep telling myself that. Everyday though it’s still there. That well of sadness that may always linger a little even years from now. A few days ago, I made my first visit to Newcastle since my Dad’s funeral and stopped by the cemetery with Husband just to have a look at my Dad’s resting place. Until the 100 days since his passing are over there’s not much to do but I wanted to go and see because how could I possibly make a trip to Newcastle and not see my Dad. As I stood there, I still felt a wave of disbelief that he is really gone. My Dad, Mr Li. I feel his absence acutely but at the same time, I have my Mum and all my other family to see and be with and that in itself is a huge comfort.

I can not imagine being anywhere else but here right now. No matter how short the time I had with my Dad since our return, it is far better than how I could have managed my time with him if we were still living in Singapore. At the moment, we are catching up on family time and doing all the things at Christmas that we have missed out on in previous years. It may have been a busy few days travelling up and down the motorway but what we have gained is invaluable. The children will remember Christmas holidays spent with family more than anything. Yesterday, the children disappeared for hours with their cousins and had a wonderful time, those kind of moments make up for many others.

I end this year feeling quite sad still, a bit blurry around the edges and not quite at full capacity. I have lost not just a parent but one of my biggest supporters, someone who is always looking out for me and champion of my children’s achievements. That will take some getting used to.

At the same time, I feel the multiple sources of love and warmth that have helped me through this. I still find myself at a loss to express just how much this means. Not just in the immediate afterwards but even now, perhaps more so now, when I get asked how am I doing, how are the children doing and expressing your words of condolence when we meet to acknowledge my loss. You may be at risk of seeing my tears fall but that’s all that will happen. This feeling of grief is something I cannot fully control so I guess I will have to be patient and allow the passing of time to heal my heart and bring peace and laughter once more as it surely will.

2017, you have exhausted me. But I have not written you off. It is not a year that I will say good riddance to. To do so would mean I haven’t valued anything that this year has brought or taken away. As sad as the memory of this year will be, I take forward life lessons and experience that can only serve me well. I am far stronger for it and I hope more understanding too.

Tomorrow is the start of a brand new year.

2018.

It sounds like it ought to be a lovely year. I have no plans as to what to do with it just yet. I know there is lots of practical things to do. I need to get on with the sorting out jobs that I didn’t do in November before I got caught up with preparing for Christmas. I hope to learn a new crafting skill, make use of my sewing machine finally, continue to aspire to an aesthetically pleasing home. I may even return to employment too. I’m looking forward to planning a full calendar of visits to people and places. I feel like starting the year at a more gentle pace to recover from this year, though I’m sure it will soon snowball like every year does when you have a family with young, busy children.

As I look towards a new year, for the first time in many years, I will just see how it goes with no expectations. I shouldn’t forget that I have made a pretty good start with this new adventure in the UK so far. I think just making the most of what we have right now will be more than good enough as we look ahead.

Whatever you do, I wish you a happy and fun filled New Year’s Eve. May good health, happiness and time spent well be yours in 2018.

Cheers to you and here’s to us.

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Year End Review 2016

It is tempting to write off this year as being a terrible one. Indeed, that was my initial thought. It would be all too predictable even to go on about the things that would make 2016 memorable for all the wrong reasons. 

Truthfully, 2016 on the whole has not been my most favourite year and for those who know me well, you already know this. But to say that it was a complete shambles would do the whole year a huge disservice. It would be unfair to all those who celebrated a special occasion for instance to have it tarred with the same brush as the less favourable events that happened. All too often we can be led by the negative but this will only lead to the Dark Side. We all know how that ends. It is right now as we are about to welcome a fresh new year, that we need to lead with the positives.

How best to do this than with our very own positives from the year. 
So for my Year End Review, I am going to share some of my own personal highlights from 2016.

#1, 2 and 3

Everyday I feel thankful for #1, 2 and 3. Even if there are moments within those days when I forget to feel thankful. I am definitely thankful for them. 
They don’t know anything about what’s going on with the state of the global economy, everyone is friends and a good day is measured by what’s happened in the last five minutes. They enable me to live in the moment. Something we should all do more of.

There have been some challenges of course, there probably always will be. At the same time, it has been a joy to see #1, 2 and 3 achieve their own mini milestones at school and home, more so at school than home. I still don’t understand why they can’t just show us some of that same helpfulness at home. Just a little bit. 

#1 in particular has worked very hard this year. Some of the earlier challenges in the year around adapting to a Big School environment was hard work. There were some battles we had to overcome but hard work and perseverence has rewarded #1 with confidence and enjoyment of learning. Most of the time. I’ve also discovered that #1 likes to help out in the kitchen and can almost bake a banana loaf all by himself. And he has stuck to his goal of wearing a Star Wars t shirt everyday this year. 

 
When your children start Big School, you hope for a good teacher and that your child makes friends. We have been lucky on both counts with good teachers but friendships have to be navigated themselves. I know one source of worry for #2 was whether she would find friends this school year. Within three weeks of the new school year starting, #2 had been sent to see the Head of Year twice. For boisterous behaviour with her friends. Whilst I’m not condoning the behaviour at all and #2 has solemnly sworn not to find herself in that situation again (we’ll see), I’m also glad to know that she has found a group of partners in crime that she talks about all the time. I like how she’s enjoying her hobbies of judo, gymnastics and has a creative streak in her. For Christmas, she gave us books of drawings of our favourite things as presents. 
#3 has heart and generosity. As well as a loud yell. Sharing comes naturally to her. She will offer you whatever she’s eating even before she’s had enough of eating it.  That is saying something. Mostly I get offered leftovers. Or mushed up food spat into my hand. Yum. 


Catching my first ever moonset

I wonder whether, like me, you even thought about the moonset. Though it’s so obvious isn’t it? If there’s a sunrise and sunset, there should be a moonrise and moonset. I’ve often chased a sunrise and settled down with a sunset but never a moonset. For one thing, you have to be a really early morning person. Like super early. 4.45am early. I am not a 4.45am morning person. But for this occasion I was. 

The setting could not have been more idyllic. In the resort of El Nido,  Philippines which I was lucky enough to have travelled to for Gainful Employment. The waters there were so clear and the amount of marine life you could see just a 30 metre snorkel away from shore. The furthest way from the hustle and bustle of city life you could imagine. There are few opportunities to be really still and I will always remember the calm of sitting there, watching the moon slowly dip further towards the horizon as the light all around became brighter and you were caught between that moment where night ends and day begins. 


  

My Dad, Mr Li turned 80


Just a few days before Christmas, my Dad Mr Li turned 80. I’m very thankful for that. I’m sure he is too even though he often tells me his job is done. But I have news for you my Dad, Mr Li. Your job is not yet done. Who’s to say without your watchful eye on things that I won’t be feeding your grandchildren food from dented cans. Or allow them to go out with wet hair. Or allow them to be so daring as eat two bags of crisps in a 24 hour period. 
No my Dad, Mr Li. Your job is not yet done.
Travelled to new places sans kids

I know! I actually travelled sans kids three times this year. Twice was with Gainful Employment and whilst a great experience, it wasn’t actually a holiday and shouldn’t really count. 
This year Nana Moon came to stay en route to somewhere else. As seems to be the new tradition, whenever Nana Moon comes to stay, she and I must travel to someplace new. At first we thought about Taipei but it’s actually quite far from Singapore and with just three days to spare, you want to make sure you make the most of every moment.  There are plenty of places yet to be explored nearby and so we went to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I bet you’re pronouncing it Yog-ya-karta. That’s because you’ve never been. For us it’s Jogja now. Though Nana Moon will still insist it’s Yogi.

I don’t know about you but an opportunity to travel sans kids for me is to explore and do things that I’ve never done before or would do if I wasn’t sans kids. Any notion of long lie ins and leisurely breakfasts never happen. These mini sojourns are to remember all the things that you should do because you can do them. 

In saying that, there was a moment whilst being suspended 60metres over a cliff when I wondered what on earth was I doing putting my life in the hands of a harness with three kids and Husband at home. The experience was worth it though.


Celebrating Big Brother Li turning 50

I think it’s fair to say that decades have passed since we celebrated any of our Birthday’s together. So it was particularly special to be able to celebrate Big Brother Li turning 50 this year. To him, these milestone Birthdays are no big deal. Indeed, even if it weren’t a big Birthday, it was still a special occasion to be together as a family for it.

Getting right up close to Take That, Kylie, Ronan Keating, Madonna, Queen and Imagine Dragons


In my former London and Manchester life, going to see live bands was a regular occurence. I’ve seen some of my favourite over the years and I’ve even been fortunate enough to be at Live8 just five rows from the the front. Strangely enough, I’ve had some of the best live band experiences in Singapore. 

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Going to a live gig is uplifting for the soul and one of my top five favourite things to do. You can’t fail but smile and feel your spirits rise when you are in the presence of real drums banging and guitars twanging. Perhaps the list of popstrels I’ve been to see this year are not exactly to your liking, but for me they make me happy and therefore seeing them live makes me double happy. 


I was a bit concerned that finally getting to see Take That live for the first time (even with just three of them) would be a disappointment. Would they be too middle aged I wondered and whilst I was so close I could see wrinkles, when they played songs from the 90s we were all transported to this other time. Whilst in the 20 years or so since they first were dear to my heart, much has changed and we have all aged but in those years those same songs have seen us through and brought back feeling of happiness. 

Time with family and my closest friends  


This counts for both friends in Singapore and the ones I’ve known much longer. Time in your company is always a pleasure and thank you for all the invites to many a social occasion this year.

We are very fortunate to live in times when international air travel is so possible and affordable. I think back to when my Dad, Mr Li left Hong Kong for the UK over 50 years ago with no idea of when he would next see any of his family and friends. Whilst we may struggle at times in this privileged Expat life of ours, we have the luxury of modern technology that makes distance a little easier to bear.

However, nothing can compare to having them here with you. This year we have had the joy of my In Laws come to stay in the summer. As #1, 2 and 3 get older, we can see that they need more than Husband and I around. We are of course very important and much loved by them but there are others who are much loved too, who can give them something else in addition to what we can. People who love very much and tell them all the positive things that small people delight in hearing about themselves. 


As you know, I don’t just think Brilliant New Adventure as my friend, she is family and I often do wish she was here in Singapore. But equally, when we go now to go Hong Kong we have an extra reason to visit. It can be bittersweet because you imagine what fun times the children would have altogether. But I wouldn’t miss these times for the world. Nor the opportunities to catch up with friends you haven’t seen for many years and for it to be like no time has passed at all.


It’s funny how Nana Moon tells me that when siblings are together, you all revert to type. I think the same can be said about friends who have known each other a long time. We are all of a certain personality and the core of us perhaps doesn’t change as much as we think over the years. I still rely on Nana Moon to tell that jumping across a beam, kayaking in deep waters or being hoisted over a cliff is going to be alright. I have no idea what reassurances I give her. Let’s not ask that question.

Learning new things

This year I took Mandarin Chinese lessons, picked up new skills in Gainful Employment and made my own chutney.


Husband

One constant this year, through the ups and downs, has been Husband. He who does not complain (too much) about my intention to master the use of the sewing machine he bought me several years or the bike he got me for my Birthday which he has made more use of than me so far. He who gets up early in the mornings on school days. Who enables the travelling sans kids and much more.

We celebrated Birthdays, weddings and the arrival of new family members. And we saw otters.

 So really, 2016 gave us some good memories. We just needed to think about it. 
May we all end this year thinking of what 2016 did right. Husband and I are not going out tonight because #1 has been unwell but tomorrow, we’re going to start the year fresh, with friends and new hope for a bright 2017. 

Whatever you do, do it in style. Do everything in style. 

Happy New Year’s Eve to you. xx

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The days after Christmas

I’m enjoying this lull after Christmas.

 

When the cupboards and fridge are no longer creaking with the amount of stuff stored inside them and we have just about worked our way through all the Christmas food. Ooh, except the pannetone. I forgot about that. I do love pannetone except I always feel cheated when you open up the box and it’s actually a tiny sized pannetone for one inside.

 

The days after Christmas when you can just relax and enjoy time spent thinking about other things than Christmas presents, Christmas food, Christmas posting dates (missed them again this year.) Rushing to the shops when you have a spare moment or just leaving everything to Christmas Eve……..Ahem.

 

But I do love Christmas. The twinkling lights on the tree. The smell of pine throughout the house. The excitement of all the small people (some who are quite the grown ups now) that I’ve spent each Christmas with. Now with #1, 2 and 3 who all FULLY BELIEVE and anticipate the annual ritual of preparing for the arrival of Father Christmas, I guess you could say that I am reliving a part of my childhood too.

  

 
I love how #1, 2 and 3 left the carrots and a bowl of water for the reindeers and immediately went to investigate the ‘mess’ they had left behind with #1 almost folding his arms in shock. #2 was pleased that Father Christmas had drunk his apple juice as well as the whisky and of course the almond tarts would go down well.

 

 

#1 took a while to settle down to sleep, such was the excitement and almost caught Husband still wrapping a few last minute gifts. On Christmas morning #1 and 2 were first up (after 7am thankfully) and wasted no time investigating whether anything new was going on in the living room. That first morning call of ‘He’s been!’ is one that will never tire.

 

 

A bleary eyed #3 soon joined the fray and all clamber  into our bed with their stockings. Shaking out the contents to see what’s inside. As always, the suspense of unveiling what Father Christmas has brought them has to wait until after breakfast. The air rings with persistent calls of ‘Can we open it yet? Can we open it yet?’

  

 

Then they finally do and it’s pure joy to watch them shriek in delight at what they find. #3 as you may recall asked for a dog. If not a dog then a cat. What she unwrapped was a singing karaoke Elsa that she was still enthralled with. Of course she wasn’t going to get a dog just because she had asked Father Christmas for one, he’s much more considerate and practical than that. But there are always ways around it. I have never known a child to be so in love with animals than #3. Right from when she first set eyes on a dog or cat she would be straight over wanting to befriend it. I myself, have a fear of all things animal but #3 has made me overcome that fear somewhat.

 

Our neighbours have a lovely young dog R, and they are more than happy  for us to look after him for a short while but #1 and 2 have been less keen. However seeing as it’s Christmas, we decided that for #3 she could have him over and whilst it may have seemed unfair on #1 and 2 to have them shrieking in their bedrooms on Christmas morning, we thought it’s about time they started to really think about making others happy. It didn’t happen that first day but the next day when R came by there was a little less shrieking and a little less fear. On the third day, a Christmas miracle happened with #2, who is the most shriekiest of them all, actually wanting to take R for a walk. Yesterday, they were all letting him run amok at home. Their attention taken away from all the toys and television to wanting to be near him. I think it was almost a relief for R when he could go home! But I think he will soon become a regular around ours.

 

     

This year I could see a change in #1. I think he’s starting to get that Christmas Day isn’t just about the presents (though a big part still is) and he’s becoming aware of the fact it’s special in other ways like preparing a special kind of lunch and setting the table with a real table cloth instead of the wipe clean vinyl. In previous years, the traditional turkey and all the trimmings was more for our benefit than #1, 2 and 3 would could equally be happy (happier) with traditional chicken rice. This year though #1, whilst not yet venturing onto his first Brussel sprout, showed an appreciation for some items of ‘trimmings’. In contrast to #3 who definitely would have been happier with traditional chicken rice.

 

 

#3 is still the feral one. Ploughing through the unwrapping of her stocking at a rate of 3 to every 1 that #1 and 2 opened. Then having the audacity to complain that she had no presents to open when #1 and 2 were playing catch up but try explaining the concept of ‘you’ve already opened your presents!’ to a 3 year old. Cue enter cute dog from next door  to distract her. In fact actually, R has become quite the discipinary tool for #3 if she shows signs of becoming Stubborn Wolf.

 

 

What better way to round off Christmas Day than to spend it with other friends. In the absence of family around us, we are thankful to have friends who open up their homes on this day to welcome us over for drinks, more food and merriment for the kids.

 

The same goes for sharing Boxing Day ham with friends that we’ve made here too. Almost every year, we’ve invited different friends over to share in this much more relaxed day of celebration and continuation of over indulgence.

 

Christmas is about spending time with each other most of all. The people who make you laugh and feel good. It’s about hanging out with Husband and #1, 2 and 3 without rushing here and there. 
It’s about enjoying this lull after Christmas. I hope you are too.

  

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2014 Year End Review

It’s New Year’s Eve again!

Time to wave off the old and ring in the new.

I’m not surprised this year seems to have whizzed by for me as two thirds of it was dominated by the lead up to Embracing 40 and then soon after it was all about my much long overdue trip to the UK.

Speaking for myself, I’ve really enjoyed nearly all of 2014. It didn’t start off so well with a couple of things that have since resolved themselves enough for me to feel happy about. But the rest of it has been pretty amazing.

In this year of Embracing 40, I wasn’t sure of what to expect. I knew I would meet it head on, enjoy it and to celebrate it fully. I wasn’t expecting just how great my family and friends would make me feel about it all. I still feel incredibly touched by all the thoughtful gifts and gestures that came my way. I have been very lucky and spoilt.

The highlight of my year without question was going back to the UK for nearly seven weeks. To introduce #3 to my parents and many family and friends is something I was looking forward to doing since she arrived. Although I would have liked it to have been much sooner, I think heading back to the UK this year was good for us as a family as we could do much more and not have to work around the needs of a small baby. #1 especially loved being back in the UK, #2 isn’t so sure yet and #3 will still just go with the flow. For now.

And of course there was the chance to see you. The you being all the people I have missed so much since we’ve been away from the UK. Do you know how much it means to know that you’re still all there when we come back? Six years away when we thought it would be two or three and to still find we all get on like it was no time at all. I loved that very much.

Of course I’ve always known this but I’m surrounded by people who mean so very much to me. It’s been a great honour to share some of their special occasions too. From the weddings of Big D and Sister In Law to being part of the celebrations of Mrs Cake Pops and Nana Moon who also Embraced 40 this year.

Not forgetting the Birthday celebrations of #1, 2 and 3 this year. They turned five, four and two. It’s been a really good year with them as we watch the dynamics change so that #3 is very much an active member of the family. Sometimes it’s been a challenge, especially with the assault on the ears with the noise levels they generate but as we move away from the toddler stage, we can look forward to doing much more together. Even our holiday to Japan was less daunting than we thought it would be.

Then there’s the knowledge that Brilliant New Adventure is indeed enjoying her brilliant new adventure in Hong Kong. I like living vicariously through her with the fabulous new life she’s leading. I still miss her dreadfully but with all the mod cons we have these days, no one is truly that far away.

Even my Dad, Mr Li with his new smartphone is just a what’sapp away. That can be a good and a bad thing as I discovered earlier this year with the sharing of news between family members that I once could keep from them.

But amongst all the good things that have come my way, for some close to me it has not been such a celebratory year. For them, I give much time and thought.

Equally, in the world news this year the memory of some events will never leave me. So for these tragic events I will also give much time and thought and for the friends who have been affected by them too. Sometimes, it’s much less than six degrees of separation. More like two degrees.

But as New Year’s Eve symbolises, it is the end of another year. Whether it be good or less so. Whether you come away with great memories or not so great ones. Either way it’s almost done now. Tomorrow beckons a whole new one to fill and look forward to.

For tonight and for the first time since 2007, Husband and I are off out to a genuine party for Grown Ups only to see in the New Year. I’m looking forward to starting 2015 with another three day hangover.

Wherever you are and however you may be celebrating the end of 2014, I wish you a very good one. Cheers to you.

Thank you for sticking with me and my blog and I’ll see you in the New Year.

With much love.

Karen xx

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So how do you cook a turkey?

No, seriously. How do you cook a turkey?

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Husband and I have never cooked a turkey before, except for a turkey crown. Partly due to him having been a vegetarian for the early part of our relationship. Then his principles left him. Or according to my family they thought it was for religious purposes so they probably think religion left him.

Anyways, we have never cooked a whole sized turkey. And we’ve seen them before. They’re big.

Really big.

And people talk about having to cook them overnight and getting up before dawn to baste it and all sorts. It sounds quite daunting.

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So tentatively I went to order the overpriced turkey from our local butchers last week. Naturally they couldn’t tell me the exact size it would but take your pick from small, medium or large.

Small please, considering it will be just for Husband and I as #1, 2 and 3 will most likely eat just the crispy bits of the roast potatoes and nothing else. So makes you wonder why we’re going to spend all morning in the kitchen for the full works.

Tradition of course. And because everyone in the UK will be doing the same (albeit some eight hours later and not in a hot, sweaty kitchen the size of a pea shell).

So I picked up the turkey this afternoon and asked the butcher to weigh it for me. It’s just over 3kg. Not as big as we were fearing thankfully. Then he showed me the Boxing Day ham I also ordered which we’re going to share with Mrs Cake Pops and family. That is also 3kg. With no bones or anything. Just 3kg of ham. That is a lot of ham.

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So, every year, Husband is adamant that we will not be spending Christmas Eve wrapping the presents of #1, 2 and 3 until the early hours.

It’s never going to happen because in the words of Mrs Imperturbable, ‘this year I am very disorganised’. And yet we were out having drinks together last night over looking Marina Bay Sands. We should have been wrapping presents instead but how could you pass up a view like this?

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So why am I disorganised this year? Well because I usually just am. Mitigating circumstances being the whole excitement of my almost seven week trip back to the UK used up all my excitement reserves that were left over from Embracing 40 this year. Plus the fog of jet lag took me almost into December so it feels like there has been no proper build up.

Until this last week or so when I’ve indulged in a flurry of Christmas outings.

The main shopping street in Singapore, Orchard Road, has a slew of shopping malls all with their own unique style of Christmas decor ranging from the tasteful to the tacky. But all when lit up at night look beautiful. There’s something quite magical about fairy lights twinkling in the dark.

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We took #1, 2 and 3 to the Winter Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay which was absolutely lovely. It really cheered me up to be there and I felt completely in the festive mood. We also took #1, 2 and 3 to see Father Christmas. Slightly less successful with #3 clinging onto me so fast that she could hold herself up with me hands free. Serves me right for laughing at the poor unfortunate families before us who had children who freaked out at having to be near the sleepy looking man with the fake beard and belly who clearly looks like he’s going to expire in his full on furry outfit.

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Today has been a whirlwind of last minute shopping, grocery shopping with #1, 2 and 3 that attracted a few dirty looks from other frantic shoppers, it wasn’t my most greatest Christmas experiences admittedly. We’ve watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Miracle on 34th Street and Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone whilst we’ve been wrapping.

We adopted quite a high risk strategy wrapping presents in the living room when #1 and 2 could have walked in at any time. But they didn’t fall asleep until gone 10pm because along with the excitement and anticipation, there was also a modicum of fear too.

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#3 has flatly refused to entertain the idea of Father Christmas coming at all. Not even the lure of presents will change her mind. ‘No Santa, No Santa. Ok Mummy. No Santa’.

I really enjoyed a massive bedtime hug from #1 tonight. A real big hug filled with happiness. I asked him how did he feel. He said excited and nervous at the same time. He really is so looking forward to Christmas Day.

I wish I could tell you all of them have behaved impeccably to merit a visit from Father Christmas but either way, he’ll be paying them a visit.

And tomorrow I can’t wait to hear their excited cries in the morning. I hope not too early as it really is the early hours now.

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One other thing is that those Elves can come down from those shelves for another year. As you know, I am not a fan but I follow my friend’s efforts closely and she is a creative genius. Here’s a round up of her fabulous creations this year.

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So, the advent windows are all open. The whiskey is out on the table together with the mince pie, almond tarts and gingerbread. The carrots and water are on the balcony. The presents are wrapped under the tree.

And yet we still haven’t got a clue how to cook the turkey!

Merry Christmas to you all. May you have a wonderful day with all the people you want to be with.

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