Monday, 31 December 2012

Supersensitive Christmas trees

December arrived and disappeared just as quickly in a blur of visitors, bottles, baubles and disappointing television.
Never before has my life changed so much in such a short space of time following the arrival of baby Sophie Reid on the 19th November. Life as I knew it was turned upside down, spun sideways and then given a hefty slap from an overgrown halibut and sent flailing into a nearby canal.
Sophie has now been here for 6 weeks and we're just about getting used to it all now. I don't just mean the feeding, the nappy changing, the crying, the taking half an hour to leave the house, the boxing (yes, boxing) and the now seeming inability to watch television or read a book in peace and quiet. I also mean the simple fact that there's now a third person living in our house. A very small, occasionally noisy, occasionally troublesome, but always perfect, third person.
Sometimes I get up in the morning and wonder where the extra snoring is coming from. I'm used to Ka's snoring, but when I wake up on a morning and hear the quieter, more sniffly snoring from the moses basket, at the side of the bed, it sometimes takes me a few seconds to register.
Sleeping. One of those things I used to completely take for granted. If I had a mere six hours I would consider myself half asleep and incapable of having a fully conscious day. Now six hours is something I crave. The only hindrance to my potential beauty sleep used to be Ka's snoring, but now I have Sophie's snoring, not to mention her waking up at half past four in the morning demanding nourishment by way of a heavy shuffling from the innards of the afore mentioned moses basket before the wailing and squawking from inside it.
Why she can't wait another couple of hours or so until breakfast time I don't know? It's not as if she'll fade away! (I hope nobody from the RSPCC is reading..?) Hopefully she'll catch on eventually.
My two weeks paternity started on the morning of Sophie's birth, those first two sleepless weeks followed by another two weeks off on holiday, to 'enjoy the arrival' of the new baby in the household, apparently. Ka also required a decent couple of weeks help to recover as Sophie had been born via caesarean section which meant Ka had to relax for six weeks. No exercise, no lifting heavy objects, no sudden movements, no tidying, no polishing and no hoovering. I think the latter was enough to break her out into a cold sweat on more than one occasion especially after I bought a slightly cheaper Christmas tree this year.
The first Christmas tree in a good couple of years that didn't cost over £30 but which also, unfortunately, did not have the word 'needlelast' in it's title. As a result the tree now showers the living room floor with a barrage of needles when someone so much as walks past it.
Last week, on my first week back at work, I arrived home to find our Christmas tree half bald.
Now that Ka has recovered enough to get back to her usual hoovering routine she'd been doing some housework. Apparently, at some point, whilst hoovering around the Christmas tree, (one of those great traditions Kim Wilde never sang about), Ka managed to drop the hoover into the tree, thus completely shedding it of a large portion of needles up one side. The tree now looks balder than me after a trip to Shaky Shugs in the Village.
I'm sure Ka's telling the truth though and wasn't at all getting carried away with her reacquainted hoovering abilities. You just have to adjust a bauble and a whole pile of needles will shower to the ground underneath.
The fact we've had one of our busiest Decembers for visitors also didn't help matters. Visitors are great. They're brilliant. I love visitors popping by. Especially when they bring presents.
However, when there's a highly sensitive Christmas tree in the room things get a bit tiresome.
A good proportion of the family members and friends that dropped by to say hello, to give us their wonderful wishes and presents and see our precious new bundle of joy, all managed to give the tree a good inadvertent shake while they were in. Some would sweep their jackets from their backs, swinging them round their bodies, in the general direction of the dining table chairs, apparently not noticing the Christmas tree standing proudly at their back and the needle carnage they were causing behind them as their large coats and jackets attacked the baubled branches. As soon as the guests were out the front door and on their way home, after perhaps commenting on the needle loss of our tree, it would be another trip to the cupboard under the stairs for the J. Edgar.
Still, it's New Year now, so it doesn't have long to go.
In fact as soon as the bells finish striking twelve tonight both Ka and myself will be fighting the urge to immediately disassemble the whole thing.
We'll keep the tree up for the families visitation tomorrow afternoon for our New Year's Day gathering but we have no doubt the last of it's super sensitive needles won't last long during that onslaught.
Still, it had been a nice tree.
Sophie's first Christmas tree.
Up until Tuesday morning Sophie had a hefty pile of presents underneath, even though she has no idea what Christmas Day even is.
In fact she probably doesn't even have a clear idea what a day is, come to think of it.
Since Sophie has, as yet, no idea of the concept of Christmas, Santa, presents, the birth of Jesus Christ, getting up at a reasonable time in the morning, (etc, etc), there was no need to buy her anything this year so Ka and myself enjoyed one last year of buying for each other. We couldn't let Christmas go buy without buying our new born daughter anything, of course, so we did buy her a few toys and books which, again, were all vaguely pointless as she can barely rattle a rattle yet. So on Christmas morning Ka started unwrapping presents with one hand, presents that 'she only just wrapped not twelve hours before, holding a permanently disinterested Sophie in the other arm, who seemed to be more interested on where the milk was coming from.
Sophie's day consists of eating, sitting, greeting and then sleeping on an ever spinning cycle. A bit like some of the folk I used to work with.
The only activity Sophie gets up to at the moment is a little bit of foot kicking in her bathtub and the boxing. She will sit on her bouncer quite happily following a feed, for around half an hour at the most, and then start to get bored. Her arms will then start moving, then the legs will kick until the moaning then commences. The arms' movements will take on a more determined movement until it look as if Sophie's boxing a small, invisible opponent, from the comfort of her sloping chair.
The quietest, and the longest time she's lasted in her bouncy chair, had to be Boxing day when we watched a whole seven hours of animation. Pixar's Cars, followed by the dancing penguins of Happy Feet, swiftly followed by Dreamwork's How to train your Dragon. Okay, by the time the dragons were on she was boxing again, and I think it was myself that was watching Cars more than Sophie, but the dancing penguins certainly kept her eyes on the tv. Again, she's no idea what a penguin is, and I'm not even sure she can focus on the tv properly yet, but the movement and singing was obviously keeping her interested.
More than I was anyway. I lost interest in Happy Feet. Dancing penguins singing Prince songs? Give me a break.
Talking cars, now that's fare more sensible.
It's been quite an eventful year really.
Outside my own little life there's been some pretty major and spectacular events this year. The Olympics is the most obvious event which pretty much blew everything else out of the park. Bradley Wiggins became the first Brit to win the Tour de France. The Queen's Jubilee was commemorated with a procession down the Thames in the miserable pouring rain. Gary Barlow gifted the Queen a large concert on the doorstep of Buckingham Palace with varying degrees of quality acts from the past 60 years including the crazy skeletal dance of Cliff Richard and the spinning hula hoops of Grace Jones (thanks for that Gary). The re-election of Obama turned out easier than predicted, the death of Rangers caused Scottish football to begin its slow, painful death, Whitney Houston, Frank Carson, Jack Duckworth, JR, Neil Armstrong and the Gamesmaster himself, Patrick Moore also died (to name but a few). On the edge of space, Felix Baumgartner jumped down to Earth from 24 miles high. James Bond's 50th anniversary dominated the cinema. Chris Moyles left the Breakfast show, finally. A dog won a British Television talent contest. A shoddily written book made lots of Britain's middle aged women go a bit faint and unintentionally admit how desperate they all are. Another two nutjobs in America decided to go on a shooting spree making lots of other Americans rush out and buy more guns. Jimmy Saville was suddenly exposed as a child molester but escaped conviction on account of the fact he's long dead and nobody actually said anything when he was around. A loony dance from South Korea dominated the youtube channels and became a big hit at kids parties even though the dance moves are more than highly inappropriate. All hell broke out in Syria, the Euro collapsed a little more, and the Levenson Enquiry finally came to an end with some kind of result that nobody is now paying the least of attention to.
Personally, my little life continued too. The work's move (finally!) from Hamilton to the Glasgow Clydeside has now seen S&UN officially merge with the rest of Scotland's Trinity Mirror meaning the integration and merging of teams under one roof. What this means in the long term still remains uncertain but I'm optimistic.
Ka and myself bought our first, and perhaps only, house in June/July. With Ka once more up the duff we bit the bullet and bought ourselves our new home, moving on up the property ladder, leaving Your 'Manoeuvre' to continue to come up with excuses regarding our wee beloved flat.
Ka and myself took part in more fun runs for Sands, myself taking part in my very first 10k (okay, I know it's only 10k, but I thought it was an achievement anyway) and we had the great Charity Hat Disco Night with DJ William Rae which ended up raising over £1000 for Sands and Cancer Research UK.
Ka and myself enjoyed a trip to London before the chaos of the Jubilee, to visit Auntie Ann around her 'big' birthday, and took Adventure Ted, from Ka's nursery, along for the ride. That was the last time I remember the sun being out and it was in April, and in England.
It was in London that we learnt of Sophie's existence, whilst standing in the middle of Charing Cross train station.
We enjoyed another trip to the Edinburgh Fringe where I ended up on stage with Tim Vine and gaining another wife.
There was a family reunion style picnic on Elie beach in August, at which the sun was out, (so I was wrong about the last time being in London), and I managed to burn my forehead a rather spectacular primrose red.
We flitted a few weeks later, enjoyed a giant bouncy castle and a few house warmings, and then settled down to prepare for the imminent arrival of a certain Sophie Reid.
Blog writing time became suddenly scarce, pint drinking time even more so and sleep became the new nightly goal.
Now, two years after the birth and passing of our first daughter Lucy, things are perilously close to becoming a little brighter again.
What will 2013 hold in store?
There's only one way to find out...
Happy New Year to you all.