Christmas and New Year 2018

A Christmas decision

Logan and Caitlin were very insistent that we have Christmas at home, which in some ways is great – it’s so expensive to go away and not be able to join in with anything for Christmas, due to the sheer volume of other people being about. However, being at home for Christmas has never been successful (we had had 3 Christmas days with the children before this one; the first two at home, the third at Bluestone). The only one successful in that time frame was the one spent at Bluestone. So we had to figure out what was different about being at Bluestone (aside from, you know, the obvious of being on holiday) that we could influence from the perspective of being at home. We came up with a couple:


People and expectations: In going away we had taken them away from family and friends and as a consequence lowered their social commitments and expectations. “Ok. We need to replicate that” we thought, so we arranged to have a Christmas Coffee afternoon – mid December. We would have our presents ready for everyone, if people wanted to exchange presents with us (which we discourage as the kids are easily overwhelmed, can’t let go of the stuf they have and don’t have room for more, and frankly, they don’t need presents, they need presence). We would bake a load of goodies and take them with us, setup mulled wine and mulled apple juice, and other drinks. People could just drop in and go off as they please, but we’d be there for like 4 hours. some activities for the kids and it’d all be great. So. That’s what we did.

Presents: Presents were spread out, family had given us presents before we left for Bluestone, we couldn’t take them with us, nor could we fit in ours from one another so we did that exchange before we went away. So Christmas Day was just presents from Santa only and was VERY low key. So we had to aim for that. So we arranged that any presents we had been given before Christmas would be opened prior to Christmas Eve. Then Christmas Eve we would exchange our household’s presents so that by bed time the only thing left would be Santa.

Christmas Eve

And actually – those two things were the only significant differences we could identify. So we did our Coffee afternoon, exchanged presents there. Then opened anything the children got there slowly over the course of the week that followed. We had a special early Christmas planned for Christmas Eve, whereby they’d wake up and get their usual Christmas Eve box (new PJs or an outfit, some new underwear and some hot chocolate ready for bed time routine). Then had a normal morning, followed by a special lunch and a treasure hunt (with picture maps) around our house to find presents that we had bought (and hid) for them – they would open each present in between the search meaning that they had time to run around looking for the next one reducing their anxiety and emotional behaviour. It really worked.

After exchanging presents, the children had a bit of free play time to burn off some energy and emotion. Then as they know I love Harry POtter and had bought me the Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit game, we play that and some other games until it was time to have PJs, get Santa’s treats ready and get up to bed. Every Christmas Eve we hide a new book under their pillows (a tradition we had arranged to hopefully have a little fun)… this year it was a tradition that was finally remembered by them and they were so excited to get through pre-bed time routine to get to their beds . Bed time went smoothly (with the exception of Caitlin feeling a little worried about someone coming into our house whilst she is sleeping… we reassured her that no one apart from us would be in the house. We reminded her that Mumma frequently does things like magic-ing things into a room and she has no idea how they are done, in a similar way her presents would be magic-ed into the living room but offered her the opporunity to sleep in Logan’s room on a mattress. This worked.

Christmas Day

Christmas Eve I had made it very clear to the kids, excitement trumps everything. So no time was too early to ask if it was time to get up on Christmas Day. They would either be told “no, not yet, a bit longer” or in most likelihood “hell yes!”. As I child I was always up at 4am persuading the youngest child in the house to go badger the grown ups to let us get up for Santa’s deliveries. And, anxiety was low enough. For the first year ever I didn’t give up at 8 and go and get them (already awake but too scared to say anything) up myself. They called up at 6am “Mumma, has Santa been?” my heart beated joy “Oh, um… I dunno, why don’t you go down and take a look?”

Santa had been, and he hadn’t left much of his treats on the plate…

The excited screams sounded their way up the staircase. I was worn out, but very VERY happy. I could have cried happy tears in fact “they are doing ‘normal’ kid stuff… what is this?”

The Logan and Caitlin don’t like anyone being left out so Bruce and I have to make each other a stocking and the children had won a stocking at a Christmas Fair so we “had” to fill it for the dog… of course.

The day was very low key, after opening presents, we pulled out the sofa bed and chilled watching the 1940’s version of A Christmas Carol. Then had some breakfast and mostly did a lot of nothing. It was perfect. And ate some glorious food in between. It was perfect. We pulled off a Christmas at home. We know what we need to do now.

New Year

Normally for New Year’s Eve, we have an evening all prepared, we put the clocks forward 3 hours so midnight arrives at 9pm (much more manageable in this house). But actually, some friends were going through a hard time. They came and stayed over. The kids all played together. The adults all played board games and laughed. The kids fell asleep early. We got no photos. It was just immensely fun. A welcome break in the midst of a very stressful time. We loved it.

Building “the beast”

As promised, I am writing a post about our custom bed, a product of my brain, borne of necessity.  The attic room, our bedroom, is accessed by a staircase that’s only 70cm wide and has a right angle bend in. Given the layout of the room: eaves, radiator, slanted wall due to staircase, alcoves and so forth, I knew it would be difficult to suppose that a double bed could sit against a wall, as well as having wardrobes without having the radiator, among other things, moved. So I knew we needed a storage bed of some variety. I had looked into ottoman beds, but the mattress base tends to come assembled, which we would find quite literally impossible to get into the room. So I tried to look into alternatives. But nothing suitable was coming back. I had a search around on Pinterest a bit, but still nothing overly struck me. Bits and bobs but I didn’t see anything that would suit quite what we were looking for.

After a while sat thinking about what stuff we’d need to be stored etc. I realised we didn’t need hanging space (we are drier to drawer kind of folk, we do own an ironing board, and it does come out for special occasions, but given the children’s inability to do big functions… that’s very irregular indeed). So, I needed drawers, like a cabin bed. Then it hit me… The small Ikea Stuva frames with drawers… perfect. After having measured up the floorspace, I knew I had space for a superking, so now it was down to planning. Once I had the idea though, it just came together…

Fast forward to moving in and all the packages arriving for me to build the frame. I was left to carry all of these boxes up the 2 flights of stairs (whilst trying to keep the children safe…). I am quite disappointed I didn’t lose a stone that week in all honesty, I swear I sweated out more than a stone in weight but whatever…

 

Next came assembling the cupboards as they should stand. I had decided I would need 9: 2 sets of drawers with 2 deep drawers, 4 sets of drawers with 1 deep and 2 shallow drawers and 3 cupboards with doors and a shelving. Then placed into a U shape 30 cm away from the wall so that they were inline with the coving.

 

After a painstaking process of leg adjustments, leveling and screwing each cupboard to its neighbouring unit, I had to add a central and header frame. But ensure that it was low enough that the mdf sheets would slot in and remain flush with the top of the cupboard. And allow for an extension cable to reach the end of the bed, for plans to later be revealed.

 

Once that was on, and we had drilled some air holes in the MDF and hoovered, we could leave the mattress to rest. Although, Bruce got confused and decided that he was called mattress and not Bruce (I should also add that this masterpiece was created by my brain, shopping power and physcial strength and energy… he just helped from the point of drilling holes in the MDF – lazy pants).

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Once 48 hours had passed, I dressed the bed and set about my plans for shelving either side of the bed… The plans were always intended but how they were going to be achieved wasn’t clear in my brain until I got to this point.

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The shelving had to be no deeper than 30cm, but allow maximum capability to store things such as books and the like. But then I found there’s a Stuva unit that is only 30cm deep – so that was perfect. I got 4 and a Besta TV unit, which now houses our TV, speaker and Xbox for when we finally get moments of respite… And that’s the bed (almost) complete. Looking at the picture, there’s a 30cm gap between the edge of the bed and the coving where I intend to do a 30cm square shelving, with double USB port/single plug socket charging point and small cupboard.

Behold, “The Beast”

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PS, good luck trying to get up our stairs and into this after a few beers… it’s a challenge.