The Magic of Christmas Disappearing?

Sleigh bells, twinkling lights, tinsel and presents. The Christmas season is upon us and everyone has their tree up and their lights on. I love Christmas, I always remember how magical a time it was when I was a child. My father made a real effort to make it that way and I will always remember the one year he walked through the house in really muddy boots (mum was not pleased!) so that there would be large footprints everywhere. He was trying to convince us that Santa had done it, and it worked.

Although we had little money we still managed to have a magical Christmas. I remember putting out a mince pie and a glass of milk, not forgetting the carrot for Rudolph, and hoping that they would be gone in the morning. Waking up on Christmas morning and finding my sock full of fruit and sweets and the odd little toy was great, I have one specific memory of my youngest sister waking at 3am and asking if she could have her sock! Walking downstairs and rushing into the lounge to see that Santa had been considerate enough to put our presents in three separate piles, one for me and one each for my sisters, was great. The fact that we had no money didn’t effect the magic, not ever.

These days it all feels very different. Obviously it’s going to, I’m on the other side of it now and have to try and make this time magic for my boys. I’m glad my father went to so much effort because it means that I don’t really have to struggle to think of things, I just pinch his ideas. Last year we bought GoGo’s for my eldest and hid them around the landing upstairs, down the stairs and leading towards the lounge. He was very impressed that Santa had been into his bedroom and walked around upstairs to hide these little figures. The hubby and I gave each other a knowing smile. 

My youngest is just getting into the stage where he knows that Santa is coming and he knows he’ll get presents. Whenever we go shopping and he sees something he wants he says “Mum! I want this for my Christmas list!”, his brother has been adding things to his list for weeks and I think it’s finally rubbed off! 

There is one problem with having two children 5 years apart, how do you deal with the ‘Santa’s not real’ thing? My eldest is on the brink of finding out, he has friends who know already but have promised not to tell him. I think this will be the last year that we can convince him. But what happens when he knows? I’m hoping that we can tell him he’s in our little club, the ones that know the secret, and our little one still needs to believe in Santa.

The thing is, when you have children who don’t believe in Santa anymore how do you make it magical for them? They know that it’s you that buys the presents, or that they’re from others in the family and there isn’t some magical character that delivers them on Christmas Eve. How do you get them into the Christmas spirit without it being all about the gifts? 

I’ve got a year to think about this, I hope. Maybe I’ll talk to my father and find out how he dealt with it. Either way this is the last year that me and the hubby can enjoy the smiles on their faces when they find secret toys hidden in their rooms or see the eaten mince pie and empty glass (Santa now enjoys a glass of bourbon and a glass of Amaretto!). I’m going to enjoy every moment and I will secretly be hoping we can con our eldest into believing for just one more year. Fingers crossed!
All the photos are of Tesco Charity Christmas Cards that I bought yesterday. I love them!

The Snowman and The Snowdog Premiere

Thirty years ago a 26-minute animated film aired on 26th December on Channel 4 for the first time ever. An adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, this film was an immediate hit, was nominated for an Oscar and has been shown on TV every year since. When I was a kid I loved this film and watched it at every opportunity. I always looked forward to seeing it on the TV and watching it now, thirty years later (OMG!), I still love it. The fact that my kids love it too makes it all the more enjoyable, we can all sit on the sofa watching it and I see their smiling faces as the Snowman takes the boy flying through the air towards Santa. That’s the iconic piece in this film, the flying sequence, and even now I think it’s amazing. Those pictures were hand-drawn and coloured in, people spent hours on this and it definitely shows. So, when I found out that there was going to be a sequel I was very excited. Another christmas film for my kids to see and another christmas tradition to add to the list, great!

The Snowman & The Snowdog premiered at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square on Sunday 9th December and we were lucky enough to be invited. This is because my husband made the game, but we’ll get onto that later. I’d been preparing for this premiere for weeks, making sure the kids had appropriate clothes, booking a hotel for us to stay in over the weekend and planning activities for us all. When Sunday came I was wiped out from a hectic weekend but nothing could dampen my spirits. We’d been told that there was going to be a snow-globe for the kids to have their picture taken, face-painting and The Snowman himself might be there! 

We arrived outside the Empire Cinema at about 9am, a whole hour before we were allowed to go in, and saw the red carpet and three elves wandering around outside. A large crowd was gathering, some people waiting to go in and others just waiting to see the celebrities arriving. We waited as patiently as we could until they started letting us all in and then joined the long queue. This part was slightly disappointing. It’s nothing like they show on the TV, where the celebrities arrive and wander into the cinema with no one else around. We were ushered into the foyer with only a moment to see the snow-globe, face-painting and a quick glimpse of the Snowman then we were told to find our seats in the cinema.

The contents of our Goodie Bag
Disappointed we wandered into the cinema to find our seats and I noticed that every single seat seemed to have something laying on it. As we got closer and selected our seats we found goodie bags! As you can see from the picture there was the a copy of the The Snowman by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman including Father Christmas DVD, The Snowman and The Snowdog activity book, a plush Snowdog, a candy cane and a few advertising cards. The kids thought it was fantastic and wanted to pull everything out straight away, particularly the cute little plush. Whilst in our seats we were told by elves that a magician was wandering around the cinema and that if the children wanted a balloon they could go to the back of the cinema to choose one. My eldest did just that and came back with a Snowman for his little brother and a Snowdog for himself.

The cute little Snowdog plush
Once the celebrities were seated and everyone was ready the film was introduced and it began. I sat there with tears in my eyes the whole time. I did wonder if they would manage to make something as wonderful as The Snowman but I do think they’ve made a worthy sequel. It pulled at my heart strings, made me smile and most of all made me look forward to Christmas. In a film without words it must be quite difficult to express emotion but with the beautiful music and the expressions of the characters they got the lump to stick in my throat and tears to well in my eyes. Magic. The kids sat silently watching it and asked if they could watch it again when it was finished. Like I’ve said before, the mark of a good film.

I don’t want to spoil the film for all of you so all I’m going to say is watch it. The Snowman and The Snowdog is a brilliant film all on its own and a great sequel to the original, your kids will love it. It is due to air on Christmas Eve on Channel 4 at 8pm. 

Also, while I’ve got you… There’s a game too! Now, I have to admit that I’m a little biased because my husband and his crew at Crash Lab made this game but your kids will love it. You fly The Snowman, Billy and The Snowdog over Hastings, London and the North Pole collecting snowflakes, angels, snowmen and various other things from the film. There are objectives to complete, badges to collect and a wonderful world to fly around. There are also some nice little touches, shake your iPad/iPhone and watch what happens. The best bit though - the game is FREE. That’s right, FREE! 

It’s available on iTunes, Android and Amazon app store so whatever your device grab yourself a great christmas game that will keep your kids quiet for while! ; )

And don’t forget to look out for the film on Christmas Eve!

The Lorax Review

I don’t normally write reviews and this is not a sponsored post but when I heard that The Lorax was going to be released as a film I have to admit to being a tad excited. I love the book and have read it to both my children, they both love the story too and I thought it would be a great trip to the cinema for all of us. I was right.

We went to see it at the cinema and the kids LOVED it. Me and the hubby thought it was great too, so much so that we eagerly awaited the DVD release. Normally, with something like this, we would wait until Christmas to give it to the kids but we couldn’t wait that long, I think we were more excited to get it than the kids were! So, yesterday the hubby took our eldest to Tesco and returned with the Blu-ray version of The Lorax. We proceeded to sit down, turn the lights off and spent the next hour and a half watching this magical movie. 

I have to say that this movie has the best opening sequence I have seen in a long time and it will have all you adults out there laughing within two minutes. I promise that. It grabs your attention right from the start and delivers entertainment the whole way through. No mean feat, especially where children are concerned.

A classic
The makers of this movie have managed to bring the Dr. Seuss world of The Lorax to life. The Truffula Trees look fantastic, the Humming-Fish are very entertaining and the Brown Bar-ba-loots are really cute! They’ve captured the magic of Dr. Seuss while adding to the story and creating new characters. Some of whom are very funny!

The soundtrack is very good too. I found myself humming along with some of the songs and made a point of telling the hubby that I want to buy it. Little snippets of recognisable music will have you giggling throughout.

My eldest sat for the entire time without speaking, he was glued. My youngest however, did not do too well. Being 3 and a half I guess is just a little too young to sit and watch a whole movie at home, he’s quite the fidget at times. Aside from the fidgeting both kids loved this movie, so much that the first thing they wanted to do on waking up this morning was watch it again. Now that’s got to be a good sign! 

I think this is a great family movie and I recommend you go out and buy it, whether it’s for a Christmas present or just to watch right now, it would be a brilliant addition to anyone’s movie library.

The Beginning of the End?

When you have children you know the day will come. You dream about it, scare yourself silly about it and just plain fret about it. While they’re growing you kid yourself that it won’t happen. For me, it happened yesterday; My 8 year old son, after receiving pocket money, asked to go to Tesco - alone

Image courtesy of

OMG!! Alone?

My baby out on his own - why would I let him do that?

Well he thought it was a fantastic idea. He wanted to walk more than two miles, in the dark, across busy roads, to go and spend his money. I forced a smile and pretended I wasn’t bothered by his request but inside I felt sick. The thought of him walking all that way alone, nope. Not gonna happen!

It came as such a shock! He’s never really been bothered about being on his own before and I guess I’ve been kidding myself that he would grow up without the need to do it. I’m terrified of letting him out of the door, not knowing where he is or what he’s up to. It makes my stomach flip, my heart pound and my legs turn to jelly. I hate it. But, of course, I don’t have much of a choice in the matter, I know I’m going to have to let him go at some point and I will have to face the fact that I can’t keep my eye on him all of the time. 

So, what to do? 

After my son went to bed the hubby and I talked about it. There are so many scenarios you have to consider and, it being our first time, we didn’t really know where to start. Our initial instinct is to give him a phone, make sure he knows how to use it and keep track of him that way. This has it’s own drawbacks, the most significant being what if he loses it?

Next we had the idea that he could walk home from school one day, it’s just one long road and he would be heading home, we know how long it should take and when he would be leaving school, so if he was late we’d know it. There’s also the possibility of involving one of his school friends, with their parents permission, of course. They could walk home together and then, on arrival, I would text the other parent or they would text me to let me know they’d arrived home. 

With so many possibilities how do you choose just one? This is probably the hardest thing I’ve had to face as a parent so far and I think I need help. I’m not sure what the first step should be so I’m asking all of you. If you’re a parent who has done it, how did you? How did you deal with doing it that first time? What steps did you take to minimise risk? If you’re a parent who hasn’t done it yet but have some great ideas, please let me know what they are. This is one of those things that all parents have to deal with and I’d love to hear your views on the issue.

Summer Holidays

Morgan's Milieu | Summer Holidays: Bolsover Castle
Bolsover Castle
After a few weeks of the kids being back at school I am (slowly) getting into a routine. The little one is at nursery in the morning so, at the moment, that gives me 3 hours of childless time. In that time I’ve managed to get most of the chores done. The dishwasher has been put on and emptied, the washing machine and dryer are both going and the hoovering has been done. The house is tidy. One problem… little one is due home.

Chocolate, Alcohol and a Choice

Since the end of the Christmas holidays me and the hubby have been on a weight loss campaign. We have a holiday planned for Summer 2013 and we both want to be at our goal weight by then. This is the fourth time (I think) we’ve done it and so far I’ve never managed to reach my goal. 

Morgan's Milieu | Chocolate, Alcohol and a Choice: Latte and biscuits.

Previously we have tried various techniques to lose weight, every time opting to do lots of exercise as well as eating differently. I have always found it very difficult and watch as the weight drops off the hubby. I believed it was because I’m a woman and it is harder for us to shift that excess fat. However, this time things are a bit different.

Growing Up

I got the letter confirming Little Prince's place in nursery. He starts in September but has two practice days at the end of this school term. You know what? September can't come quick enough!

Morgan's Milieu | Growing Up: Cherished memories of babies.

That might sound like a terrible thing to say but, at the moment, it's how I feel. I'm ready for a few hours a day where I can drink a cup of tea in peace. I'm ready to sit in the house and listen to the birds outside or watch something on the TV. What makes this all the more exciting is I’ll have more time for writing. I’ll be devoting the free time to my stories and hopefully get them finished faster. There are so many things I'm looking forward to but being child-free is top of the list! I will be able to sit and think of no one but myself.

This new phase will be good for LP too, he is ready to be going to school every day. When I take his brother he asks if he is big enough yet and every day I have to tell him “Not quite.” Then the tantrums start.

When LP is in nursery I will worry and fret. I'll hope he is getting on OK and wonder if he is making friends. As he says goodbye to me every morning and totters into school with a smile on his face I will walk away with tears in my eyes because my baby is growing up. I'll wish for the days when he stared up at me from his moses basket or the times when we sat on his activity blanket playing with his baby toys. I'll find it really difficult to let him go because this time there will be no more babies. 

When my eldest started nursery I loved it and I didn't worry about letting him go. I knew he had to grow up sooner or later and, although I was sad, I watched as he made friends and became a 'big boy'. At that time the Hubby and I were already planning our next baby so I didn't need to mourn the baby days. I could enjoy the free time and remember him being a baby without feeling sad, but now things are different. We have no plans for any more children. I will watch them both grow and become more independent every day. As the years go by they will need me less and less and I find myself wishing that wasn't the case.

This is a phase I'm sure all parents go through. While they are newborns we wish for them to grow and be more interesting, to start moving around or playing with toys. Once there, we want them to start walking, then onto the nappy-free days.

When they start school and we have that spare time to ourselves we realise that we have spent the last three years wishing our babies lives away. We've hurried to the next interesting stage so we can find out new and exciting things about our children. What we fail to realise is we should be spending our time enjoying the stage they are at NOW because before you know it they will be going off to university. 

Enjoy the newborn stage because when you look back you realise that it passed far too quickly. They are small babies for a very short time and we should cherish it. Savour the time when they're not-yet talking because as soon as they learn how to get their words out there's no stopping them. You won't get a moment's peace in the day!

I love my children and always try to enjoy the stages they are at. However, sometimes I find myself either wishing their lives away or wishing for a time gone by. It's these times when I remember those precious moments that have a special place in my heart. They make me sad that I will never see my children like that again. I have to slap myself and remember that we all have to grow up and I should be enjoying every second with my kids, creating new precious moments and keeping them in my heart too.

We should remember those baby days with fondness and at the same time take notice of our children's new abilities and remember those too. Hold onto those memories because when we are old, sitting in that armchair enjoying a visit from the great grandchildren, we will be able to look into the eyes of the toddler standing before us and see our children as they once were. We'll re-tell stories to the next generation and smile when we remember that time 'he fell in the canal!' watching as our great grandchildren laugh at the idea of their grandfather falling in the canal. 

Those are the times I look forward to the most.

What precious memories do you have?

Positive Thinking

A while back, the Hubby had the opportunity to interview for a job. It was perfect for him and he would have loved it. It would have stretched him but he was ready for the challenge. The job was in California. If you've read my profile you will know that I live in Nottingham, UK. It is quite different to California. Looking at a website I saw that Downtown LA has 292 days with sun! Those are the kind of numbers that we can only dream of in the UK! This year, so far, I think we've probably had 15!

Morgan's Milieu | Positive Thinking: Pier at sunset, with bird

There are hundreds of differences between Nottingham and LA. Many that I'm sure we're not even aware of but as he made his way through the process we found ourselves looking forward to it. Yes, it was a huge change. It would be a really difficult transition to make, especially with the children, but it was one we were willing to make. The opportunity was huge and we believed it would encourage our children to aim for the top. The fact that we were considering moving to another country could open up their minds and make them realise anything is possible if you try.

We considered all the challenges that the move would present. We thought about all the pros and cons of such a move and actually started to get excited about it. We imagined how different our lives would be, how many more opportunities our children would find they had and how we could both reinvent ourselves if we wanted to.

After a couple of months it turned out that he didn't get the job and, although he was a little disappointed, we were relieved. We were thankful that we wouldn't have to live apart for months while he organised everything over there. We were happy not to have to move the children away from their friends and family and we were pleased that we wouldn't have to pack up our stuff and ship it to another country.

This whole process got me thinking and it dawned on me that we are very lucky people. Both me and my husband tend to look on the positive side of things. We try to see the best  in everything and react accordingly. If a spanner is thrown in the works we see it as a hidden opportunity. As you can see, when he was going through the interview process we looked at all of the good things that would happen if he got the job and then, when he didn't get it, we saw all the good things about staying.

I know people who go through life only seeing the negative. They go to work every day, to a job they hate, and complain about how awful their lives are. They complain when the rain is pouring and complain when the weather is glorious and the sun is shining. Given an opportunity they would rather stay as they are than risk it all. I'm so pleased that I'm not like that. Don't get me wrong, I do consider that all things have cons but I like to think that I can see the good in everything. There's always a silver lining.

My husband is now setting up his own business doing something he really enjoys and with this new phase comes new things to look forward to. If he starts going to an office every day then I can enjoy a quiet cup of tea on my own or, perhaps, do some writing!

Being able to see the positive is a blessing. Even in the darkest times you can see that light at the end of the tunnel and aim for it. I pity all those people that go through their lives limiting themselves because they're afraid to take a risk. New opportunities present new ways to seek out life. I want my children to grow up believing they are capable of anything as long as they put their minds to it.


Secrets are a funny thing. 

We all have them.

Secrets | It's good to let secrets out.

For a very long time my secrets have been locked away in my head, hidden inside a fortress, surrounded by an unbreakable forcefield. You know the kind. It's the place you put those things you never want to remember and never want to reveal. The things you'd rather forget. However, your mind has a strange way of working and sometimes remnants of those memories can leak out.

My whole life I have learned that keeping secrets is the best way to survive. I managed to build a fortress to protect myself and always kept things hidden. By the time I met my husband it was filled with all kinds of things. Once me and the Hubby became serious I told him some of my secrets, but never details. There are just some things you can't say. We have been together for nearly ten years and in all that time he has never given me a reason to put anything into my fortress. We have two gorgeous boys and are happily married. Yet I still struggle when it comes to revealing my true thoughts and feelings. I guess I spent so long protecting myself that it's hard to let someone in, even when you trust them.

Recently I had leakage. Memory leakage. An incident caused a surprise reaction from me and I had to explain myself. The rest of the day was spent with lots of tears and lots of alcohol. I told the Hubby my secrets. It was hard and at the time I didn't think it would make anything better. The funny thing about those hidden memories is that they fester and mutate in your head. They become huge monsters that terrify you and the thought of revealing them is overwhelming.

In the end I did reveal them and at first I didn't feel better. Not at all. In fact, I felt worse. The things I'd been talking about were now fresh memories, they were all I could think about. This went on for a few days and I wasn't sure I could stand it. I felt low, I didn't want to do anything. The problem was I knew no one could help me, that was the reason I'd never revealed my secrets before. What's the point in revealing something when no one can do anything about it anyway? It's in the past. That's where it should stay.

Now things are different. My husband really knows me and now understands why certain things have a strange reaction. Life is better. I don't feel low anymore. Revealing my secrets has made me realise just how much my husband loves me and now I know I'm safe. I don't need to hide anything in that fortress. I have someone that will keep my secrets and help me get past them. It has made my life so much easier.

If you have a fortress I would recommend revealing those secrets to someone you trust. Those few days of darkness were hell and I hated every minute of it but they passed. I feel much better now and I know I can talk to my husband about anything. I feel closer to him and it's made our relationship stronger. Someone else shares my secrets and I don't have to carry them alone anymore.

Even though that fortress is strong and you think those secrets are hidden, at some point they will leak. Something or someone will trigger a memory and then comes the storm. 

Set yourself free, ease your pain. 

Clear the air. 

You will feel much better for it.

Why bother being SuperMum when you can be you!

Watching TV and seeing shows like Perfect Housewife or SuperNanny often makes me wonder if I should try harder, spend more time with my boys. Perhaps I should clean the house or iron the  mountain of clothes in the basket?

There's always something for a mum to be doing; cleaning, playing with the children, visiting family.

(24/7) once you sign on to be a mother, that's the only shift they offer

Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper

I've been a stay-at-home mum for nearly 8 years and haven't managed one single day when there weren't chores to do. Every day is filled with chores; ironing, washing, cooking, cleaning. I do my best to get the most important jobs done, like making sure I feed the boys, and get some time to spend with the children. But sometimes I do resort to the Xbox.

What it takes to be SuperMum

First of all your house should be spotless, no toys on the floor and certainly no unwashed dishes in the kitchen. Your children should be well presented and polite, and never ask inappropriate questions. You spend all hours either tidying, cleaning, or cooking, which also means your house is filled with the aroma of freshly baked cake. You are happy to welcome guests without having to race around the house to clean up before they arrive. 

Are you up to it?

I know I'm not.

Am I SuperMum?

My house is never perfect, far from it.

I have 500 (roughly) toys on the carpet in the lounge, toys are all over the place. I have been known to find action figures hiding between the sofa cushions. My children's toys get into many dark, strange places; behind a radiator, under the cooker, even in my handbag! Many of them are lost for months, until I have a 'Cleaning Day'. On those days, my boys cheer with joy when they see that skeleton man or a bouncy ball they thought had been lost forever.

I am not SuperMum, I have never been.

I do my best and that's all I can do.

Time for a break

With everything you have to do you're entitled to a break. You need the few minutes it takes to have a hot drink in peace or, occasionally, a trip to the hairdressers. It's hard taking care of your family, trying to keep them happy, as well as making sure the house is clean and tidy.

Don't be ashamed to say you're struggling and would like time out. Everyone needs a break and no one can be a superhero without a little help.

Becoming a mother makes you realise you can do almost anything one-handed.

Don't be a Superhero

Your children don't need a superhero mum, they have plenty of toys to be the superhero, what they need is for you to be you. When you aren't trying to be a perfect mum and are enjoying life you are at your happiest, and your children will see that. They will know that you are happy and will be happy too.

Don't be SuperMum.
Be a real mum.

A mum who changes routine every day and is not sorry to say the housework can wait. It's a hard enough job, why make it harder by torturing yourself with guilt?

Drink tea. Eat Cake. And play with your kids.

What do you do to stay a real mum?