'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Every creature was puking, except for my spouse;
The only reason he wasn't is that he wouldn't dare,
Lose his streak of not puking since Bruce Willis had hair.
The children were crying in various beds,
As we ran out of clean sheets and wished we were dead;
And Papa and Mama realizing their trap,
Knew better than to hope for any type of nap,
The stockings were hung and the presents were set,
There was nothing anyone needed to get.
The tiny British fridge was full of delights,
That no one wanted to eat for many many nights.
So the food went bad and the parents were mad,
And the children they really behaved quite bad,
But Santa still came and remembered their names,
And brought all the toys and the books and the games.
The neighbours were kind, and delivered bland food,
Ginger ale, white bread, and tea biscuits for the brood.
Prime rib was only enjoyed only by one,
The man who refuses to be sick not from his bum.
The children played and the parents cleaned,
Parties were cancelled, what does Christmas even mean.
I heard my spouse exclaim as we reminisced in the night,
"That didn't feel like Christmas, now do you want to fight?"
January was the month that calendar adventures were born. Visiting such adorable towns and villages in the Cotswolds really added a layer of whimsy to the year that was much needed and appreciated. We visited Stroud, and the dentist, and Mr. G and Mr. L and I really tried to have as much fun together as possible in the last months before they started school.
February we had one of our families favourite adventures, visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tours in London. We all enjoyed it so much, and it was definitely a dream come true for my partner and myself, two very nerdy muggles. We are still waiting for the boys to receive their Hogwarts letters, and we will be utterly supportive of them when they decide to pursue their magical lives. We ate pancakes with friends visited baby lambs (I have not eaten lamb since), and had as many playdates and park dates as possible as the days before school were waning. We enjoyed the third large snowfall of the season- we have had none so far this winter but I have not lost hope yet.
In March, Mr. L and Mr. G turned FIVE in a snowstorm and we had a PJ Masks party to celebrate. Mr. K loves birthdays, and enjoyed the celebrations thoroughly! We chose a school for Mr. G and Mr. L and they had a tour. They were so excited that they wanted to start immediately and cried when they learned they had to wait a few weeks. Fast forward nearly a year and although they enjoy school, they definitely enjoy weekends more and often tell me that, "their bones are a little broken so they have to stay home." My partner had a two week work engagement up North, and we joined him for a weekend, in yet another snowstorm. It's a good thing I fell in love with North Yorkshire and Scarborough, because those seven hour drives with just the boys and I were awful! I visited Anne Brontë's grave, and absolutely loved the cold wind and stormy sea. We visited a castle and drank a pint of Guinness on Saint Patrick's Day... with the kids. At the end of the month the twins finally started school. We were all so proud of them, they adjusted really well and were already ahead of their classmates in reading and maths, though likely not in behaviour and listening.
April was for celebrating Easter and getting outside as much as possible. We definitely went through a withdrawal period as we missed seeing our homeschooling friends as often as we previously did. We had to go through a second withdrawal a couple of months later when they went back to Canada. The worst part about this diplomatic posting, besides the tax issues and the parking, is saying goodbye to people you grow so close to. We visited Bletchley Park and our favourite people in all of England came to visit. My partner and I started to have "day dates" while the children are in school, school really is the best (only) childcare we have at this time. Initially we didn't know what to say to each other or how to hold hands in public, but we've got our groove back... a little. I met my Instagram friend Katie in real life and we hit it off right away and no one got murdered, the internet can really be wonderful sometimes.
In May we had Jazz festival and it started to get warm, a little taste of what was to come. The paddling pool came out, our day dates got better, and everyone was in a frenzy about the Royal Wedding. I bought a fascinator and wore it more that was really appropriate. The boys had their own Royal Wedding at school, which was so exciting that Mr. L put a tiny pebble in his ear. No one at the emergency room could remove the pebble, but they let us wait over four hours anyway. After a weekend of poor hearing, we returned to see an ENT and thankfully the pebble was removed. They gave it to him to keep (why would they do this, he's obviously not smart enough to keep it out of his ear), he lost it down a sink drain with in minutes of being home and he cried.
Mr. K turned eight in June. We celebrated with a doughnut cake and a bouncy castle that was as tall as our neighbour's house. He absolutely loved it. We said goodbye to friends and hello to allergies. We went to the Circus with Dave while my partner went to Ottawa. My bookclub really stepped things up by introducing me to my true love, a Korean Restaurant in Cheltenham called Ginger & Garlic that also has K Pop Karaoke rooms. You haven't really lived until you have sang, "I Just Called to Say I Love You," set to a montage of all the most violent and heartbreaking scenes of Legend's of the Fall- heavily featuring Brad Pitt crying scenes. My partner and I shared Father's Day and my Birthday AGAIN. It's the worst. Mr. G and Mr. L had their first sports day and came in last in every race, but didn't care at all and had a great time. I was very proud.
In July we hosted an epic Canada Day Party and drove our kids to school hungover the next day. I took the train to York with Clare and absolutely fell in love with the place. I learned that a one to two hour walking tour can easily become an over four hour ordeal if you aren't careful. I also learned to avoid all pubs and all pub areas on a World Cup game day. It turns out that football was not coming home, so sorry England (I watched zero games so I actually was not very emotionally invested). Mr. K received a trophy for being the student with the most improved behaviour in his entire school, prompting his parents to wonder, "how bad was he?" We said goodbye to more lovely friends and we somehow got the boys to school every day. Going to school in July is very difficult for us Canadians. Our summer mode is strong. It didn't help that the UK was experiencing an epic heat wave.
In August we celebrated my partner's birthday and then drove over two hours to hop on an over nine hour flight to Edmonton to visit our family. We had a memorable fabulous time. It was hot and smokey due to the forest fires. For the first time since I have moved away from Edmonton nearly seventeen years ago, Edmonton was greener than the place we had flown from. We left a brown parched England behind. The great part was, we had been training for heat since June in high humidity, so the thirty degrees Celsius days in Edmonton didn't really faze us. It was so nice to see everyone, my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters, cousins, friends! We definitely didn't have time to see everyone we would have liked to. Two weeks went quickly!
September was for taking rides on tiny trains, and starting school. A Starbucks drive thru opened in Cheltenham, which makes me feel like I could stay here forever now. I had an adventure in Barry, Wales, with my Insta/real life friend Katie. There were more calendar adventures and a lot of fun nights with friends. We had friends visit from Massachusetts, whom we were close with way back in the New Brunswick days. It was so fun to chat with them and feel like no time has passed. We started swimming lessons and piano lessons. I did a Jane Austen tour of Bath with one of my wonderful book club friends (bucket list day for me). We enjoyed good health but poor sleep.
During October school break we drove to Essex to visit our favourite Brits and had the most memorable time. The Gruffalo Trail was amazing and our day by the seaside beautiful. Our dinner with exhausted children and hurried goodbyes were an exercise in patience. I feel like each one of us parents should receive an award for getting through that dinner. I'm not sure what you need to to do to be knighted in this country, but I'm sure we've all earned it. For that night alone! Halloween was great, and we got to enjoy Dave's haunted house again.
In November, my writing was published for the first time in a magazine (unless you count Rebel Ruins in High School- I usually don't). I started volunteering with Mr. K's school in the area of horse riding and realized that Mr. K is quite scared of horses but I am not at all. Thanks to my wild cowboy upbringing, I have ridden horses so many times with no lessons, no helmets, and really very little direction. I participated in fundraising for Riding for the Disabled (the program Mr. K was involved in). We did some adventuring in Wales as a family and finished up our calendar adventure locations. We all had colds/ear infection/tonsillitis for pretty much the entire month of November until now with a little flu (an evil gastro flu) thrown in. So the end of the year has been rough health wise. Mr. K decided to sleep even less than previously and we started to have an ASD behaviour specialist work with us one on one in home visits to try to sort this sleep issue out. I'm sorry to say, but we've stumped her. She has definitely helped Mr. K with his sleep anxiety, so that's pretty great, except when he is jumping on his bed laughing at four in the morning.
December was illness, and Pantos, school Nativities, school Christmas Parties, Christmas Lunches, Christmas Fayres, Christmas Cards, Tombola donations, baking, raffles, Christmas Gifts, Work Dos, Diplo get togethers, rain, dark days, no sleep, vomit, and magic.
I must say that I am looking forward to January, although this January is a little busier than I would prefer. Less illness, more sleep, more adventures, and more time for quiet reflection are my hopes for the New Year. As I sat typing that last sentence, I heard vomit noises coming from outside and looked out the window to see my oldest, who stayed awake until 4:30 am last night, in the garden with no coat and bare feet. The sick was a false alarm, but I would say that we are off to a good start!
Happy New Year Everyone!