Merry Christmas

December 24, 2008

For those of you that did not get a physical card through the door, I now send it out in electronic form.

Christmas Card 2008
(Click for larger version)

Have a very Merry Christmas, and I hope to update you before the new year, but lets face it, I may well fail in this one, so just in case, I wish you all a Happy 2009 also!

P.S. If RC thought she humiliated her cat … try getting an 8 year old to pose with a tea towel on his head.

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Goin’ Huntin’

December 17, 2008

ElmerToday we went huntin’ for wabbits cwistmas twees.

Having failed to get out to get a Christmas tree over the weekend it was getting to be “now or never”. So a cwistmas twee a huntin’ we did go. Got us a big one too!

Cwistmas Twee Huntin

But you should have seen the one that got away!

It did put up a bit of a fight in that I have very few sections of either my arms or face without pickles. Anyway after much frustration in strapping it on to the car and dragging it in to the house, we got it stood up and decorated and displayed as today’s hunting trophy 😀

Due to be being disorganised as ever, the picture of the decorated tree will have to wait as it has already been a day since writing and I don’t have a picture of the decorated tree on my iPhone 😦


Little Angel

December 5, 2008

TaDaThis week was Lisa’s school nativity play. I was asked to be the “Official Photographer” type person, and put together a slideshow for the parents, as in the past they had got a company in to video it, but it ended costing too much money. This meant that I got to go to every performance including the dress rehearsal and have pretty much unrestricted access to wander around taking photo’s. I also got access to the sound desk to record a track to put the music to the slideshow.

I was in heaven… I have mentioned before that I am a sucker for Christmas, mix Christmas with one of my children on stage and I am one very proud and happy Geek, allow me to take my camera and I might just burst!

SmileNot so long ago I would have totally bought in to the little angel thing, but recently she has become significantly more naughty disobedient rebellious … lets say “wilful”. But speaking to her teacher, you get the impression that butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.

So why the Jackal and Hyde, is she reserving her good behaviour for in school? I’ll admit it’s better than vice versa, but she really does seem to be testing where the boundaries are. I suppose to be honest, I don’t blame her. She gets away with far too much, but who could stay grumpy with this little angel?

Pray


Happy Thanks Giving

November 27, 2008
Thanks To Mrs V for finding this one again.

Thanks To Mrs V for finding this one again.

I am British (English to be precise), so I don’t really celebrate thanksgiving. I am therefore a little shaky on the details. I know, or at least I believe I know, it to be to do with the early pilgrim settlers being thankful for their first harvest and the help afforded to them by the natives, resulting in the two tribes sharing a celebratory meal. How much of that is apocryphal and how much is true, I don’t know… But what is thanksgiving to modern Americans? Is it a bit like harvest festival over here? Is it just a chance to have a few days off work?

For my sister-in-law it is all about shopping. She is off to the “Great Big US of A” to visit her brother and from what I can understand accompanied by my brother-in-laws significant other, they plan to attempt to see how far they can go to stimulate the American economy. However with the recent dollar-sterling rate changes recently, there are likely to be significantly fewer dollars to do the stimulation 😦

For me it just legitimises my ongoing campaign that we should be listening to Christmas songs and watching Christmas movies. This has been the case in my house for about three weeks already, but as of thanksgiving I am far less likely to get moaned at for it 😀 (I think I am the only person that starts playing Christmas music before the stores)

But without getting too mushy, I think that there is something to be said for giving thanks before the festival that is Christmas. A chance to stop and take stock of all the wonderful things that we often take for granted. Many of the things I concern my self with really are First World Problems, so without wanting to sound like Bono, I am glad that I know that there will be food on the plate at Christmas, presents under the tree and loved ones with which to share this Christmas.

Operation Christmas ChildThis is why I am so cross that, due to my bad blogger absence, I am too late to plug this year’s Operation Christmas Child appeal. So if you haven’t heard of it (or your local equivalent) please give it a click and put it in your diary for next year.

I’ll leave you with a message from Bing…


Looking For Suggestions

November 25, 2008

Being a typical man, Mrs Geek takes care of a large percentage of our Christmas shopping, and as much as I enjoy going shopping with her for Christmas presents I am usually only really responsible for presents for My Best Friend and Mrs Geek.

Now I am not suggesting that I have usually bought everything before December, but I usually have very specific ideas of what the highlights will include. But this year I have not come up with anything and I am beginning to panic.

It's The Thought That CountsDue to the aforementioned tightness of budget in our house, last year and this we have given ourselves very strict spending limits. Now last year I cheated and used the reward vouchers that I receive for spending on my credit card, but that was after saving them for 4 years, they will not stretch so far this year.

Cheating like this did leave quite a disparity between her pile and mine, but that really does suit both of us, because I know it sounds like something you tell children, but I really do prefer to give than receive.

So I am looking for inspiration.

Now being that Mrs Geek rarely reads the blog if not forced into it, and I certain she never reads the comments, I feel fairly confident that she wont find out, at least until after Christmas. So does anyone have any Ideas?


On The Subject Of Being Busy

November 24, 2008

Over the past few months as I mentioned, I have been horrendously busy. Now I have made all my best efforts to ensure that I don’t neglect seeing my children as much as is possible, but it is impossible to put in the hours and be there for the children as much as I would have liked. However at the moment, we need the money, and when needs must…

This is not a credit crunch thing… to be honest I don’t think that has hit us at all yet (other than a slight increase in mortgage).

Last year through a rather long winded process Mrs Geek and I decided that we were not getting on with Bart’s local school. The specifics result in a long story that we can skip, but the long and the short of it was that we decided that we should look elsewhere and we came to the conclusion that for Bart, the best option was to go private.

And I will go on record now that for us it was totally the right decision. He has gone from being really turned off of school to really being enthused again (in the summer he was counting down the days until he went back). His results are good. All is well.

Lisa is now at the same school, and after a brief settling in period, she seems to be really loving it too (don’t as about her parents evening or I will really get all gushy).

It is however a rather expensive luxury. And with Mrs Geek still being on maternity leave, it means that we have to watch the pennies. I have therefore taken as much work as I can get, which has left me not getting to see as much of the people I keep telling myself I am doing it for.

I can live with this. I just convince myself that it is all for the best, and that I am doing what is right for them, and it really is what I believe, but at this time of year where every which way you look there is some story telling us that “Christmas Presence is more important than Christmas Presents!”.

To this I will say … Bah Humbug!


Winter Wonderland

January 7, 2008

I have decided that it might be a good Idea to post a little about our recent trip to Saariselkä, Lapland, to see Santa. Mainly because it was a great trip, but the Google Juice wouldn’t go a miss either.

I have to admit, it made me cringe that, whilst discussing the possibility of the trip, we worked out that we could go to Disneyland for 2 weeks for about the same price as 4 days in Lapland. But my children are 7 and 4. They will always enjoy going to Disneyland … on the other hand Father Christmas only has so much time. This was back last March, before we had decided to try for baby #3 and before deciding that we wanted them to go to a private school, thus by the time we realised that maybe our finances are a little over stretched, the die had been cast.

The first thing we had to deal with was the need to get up at 3:30am to get to the airport in time for a 7am flight. I thought that this was my wife’s standard over preparation, but I wanted things to go well so I humoured her.And a good job too. I will admit now that I haven’t flown for quite a while, and the level of paranoia surrounding check in is now ridiculous. After 1½ hours in a queue for check in, with 2 over tired children, I was ready for the fun to start. And so it did. My kids have never been on an aeroplane before, so they were quizzically amused at the whole metal detector palaver, and they were in hysterics when my wife set one off and had to be patted down. It took a lot of restraint to not imply that she was some kind of terrorist. By this time my son had woken up and was as excited as a puppy drinking espresso. As the plane took off he actually shouted “WooHoo!!” to the amusement of everyone around him. And that is when I realised (I know I am a little slow on the up take) everyone was going to see Santa!

Reindeer Reception Committee
We were met by some “Elves” and a Reindeer Reception Committee at the airport who it would seem had been sharing coffee with my son. Having left Manchester in early morning twilight, we arrived at 1pm only to find that we had missed the sun for that day. We were soon on a bus off to get fitted with what my son decided were “Sumo Suits” courtesy of Lapland Safari. These were one piece thermal suits with Jumbo boots and gloves. Standard issue to all new arrivals.

After a brief moment to check in to the hotel and a dull orientation talk we were back outside with me being husky to the 2 kids. And then we found it. There is an immense toboggan run. Just shy of 2km I am told it is the longest in Europe (I am sure they all say that). We started simple, by going to the first kick off point which was about a 60m run, which alone was probably better than any toboggan run that I had been on, and it was not long before I had joined my daughter in wiping out the fencing going down the side.

That is when the obvious struck. I am now looking for my children amongst probably 30 other children that are dressed Identically from head to foot! There is something inside you as a parent that tells you that the could recognise their children in a heart beat, let me tell you, that little something is lying! After randomly approaching 4 incorrect children (behaviour that would see you locked up over here) I got them. The biggest tip I can give you is if you are thinking of going, take something distinctive, a big red hat, or a reflective cycle vest, because it is no fun playing where’s Waldo with your own children!

The solution we adopted was to take walkie talkies, with an alleged 5km range (2-3 is more realistic, but proved to be plenty). These made me Extremely popular with the kids but my wife, being the resident technophobe, was somewhat sceptical. Her I told you so moment is the reason for the next tip.

Remember to turn on the aforementioned walkie talkies BEFORE allowing your children to go off onto the slope.Our evening meal was translated as “Meat Stew” which whilst being absolutely delicious, the translation seemed deliberately vague and having seen very few cows in Lapland (i.e. none), left one with the distinct suspicion that we may have been eating one of Rudolph’s relatives.

Later we all went to the pool, followed by a sauna. My son seemed to love the sauna. I think he considered it a test. He was completely unphased by the No Swimming costume rule in a co-ed sauna and just wanted to prove that he could endure the heat for longer than I could, but in my defence I have a layer of fat that he has so far failed to develop trapping the heat.

Snowmobiling
Next day it was time for the first of our activities. Snow mobiling cross country to a restaurant to have lunch. This was again Awesome. If you haven’t tried it, you should (not overly practical in the UK, but still …). The children however, were in a sled pulled by a snow mobile. My son found it most insulting that he was not old enough to ride for himself (he’s 7, you have to be 18) then he noticed that they were sitting on what looked like a husky fur, he was not impressed. I fear he may end up vegetarian. My daughter was generally grumpy because we had to be up at 7am (5am UK time) for the whole thing, she doesn’t function before 7am, unless for some reason we are at home and I have the day off of work. I think she has decided to start the whole lazy grumpy teenager thing a little early (she is 4!).

All aboard
The following day gave us another early start, but this had the promise of a husky ride, a reindeer ride and meeting Santa, Even my daughter didn’t dare being grumpy today! As an English man who has now come to accept the English obsession with health and safety, it was strangely liberating to be given a sled and 7 huskies followed by 2 minutes of training consisting of to turn left lean left, to turn right lean right, and to stop stamp on the break and pray, and we got through it with no accidents.

This was the day that provided both the high and low point of the trip. The high came just after the huskies, and meeting Father Christmas when my son gave me all the reasons that “He was the real Father Christmas”, I really could not have asked for more than that, when he saw Santa pull out the letters that they had written weeks earlier, the look on his face was priceless.
With Santa

Now we had all been suffering from a mild cold since leaving England, it was around about lunch time that My Son upped the anti and really got ill. He had shivers and had basically run out of energy. So we took him into what the locals call a hot room, and believe me they are not kidding, again he displayed an ability to endure furnace like temperatures, this time whiles wearing a ski suit. My wife decided that she would therefore stay with him in this room, while I took my daughter out to enjoy the rest of our afternoon. And just to prove that no good deed goes unpunished he waited until they were getting on the bus to vomit into her hat.

So was it a perfect trip? Well that would not be our family’s way of doing things, but it really was a holiday to remember for all of us. The question now is does this count as taking Baby #3 to Lapland, or are we looking at going again in 5 years time (and if so does anyone have any part time work going)
The Family in Lapland