Christmas · Personal

The Humanistic Approach? – An Alternative Christmas Post

If you’ve read this blog or know me in real life, you’ll know that I’m a worrier and an innate over-thinker. The slightest thing can set off a tangent in my brain and I’ll be going over it for days. Hey, I’m sitting here awake while the rest of the family sleeps because my brain just won’t switch off.

This year, we lost my step mum to cancer. I’ve blogged about my anger, sadness, grief etc, but just lately I’ve had another prevailing emotion: fear. You see, Lorraine had a Humanist minister speak at her service and while it was a very nice funeral (I fucking hate saying that…what the hell is a ‘nice’ funeral? Sadly, my vocabulary fails me on this one as I don’t know how else to describe it) it’s left me feeling adrift.

I don’t know if you’re aware, so please forgive my explanation if you are, but Humanism works on the principal that we should focus on human action rather than that of a deity and has no mention of an afterlife. We all just cease to be.

I suppose until this point, I’ve never been able to come up with an explanation for my own spirituality. The majority of my brain is science-driven, believing in evolution, the big bang, impact events and since becoming a huge Fringe fan, I even like to ponder the whole multiverse theory with Husband every now and again. But mixed in with all of this is still a belief in the afterlife and something a big bigger and badder than us, floating around in the ever after.

Maybe it’s a comfort thing, I’ve told you all before that I’m terrified of my own mortality, I always have been, I remember being scared of it as a small child as I’d have to be away from my Mum and Nan, which was the worst thing in the world to me back then. All I know is, I want to believe in Heaven. I want to believe that my Nan is up there in her pinny, having a good old chat with Lorraine and looking after her. That I’ll get to see all of the people I miss. A minute logical part of my mind tells me that this is just the human way of dealing with grief, but I can ignore that.

I suppose it’s Christmas that’s made me think of all of this, I’ve always felt like a hypocrite for celebrating when I don’t go to church, but as I’ve got older and started to formulate some firm ideas of my faith, I think it’s okay for me to celebrate because a) I think if there is a God, he’s in everything, not just in very expensive, man-made buildings and b) even if I don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God, I still think he was a lovely man who tried to teach people to be nice to each other, and I can still celebrate his birth.

I suspect I’ve got to the rambling stage now, this is probably one of those posts where I just needed to get everything out of my brain and let it sit in the ‘Drafts’ section forevermore. But I’m going to publish it, mainly in the vain hope that someone else can organise my thoughts for me. All I know is this: I miss Lorraine terribly and I hate the thought that we won’t get to see her at Christmas. I am, and will continue to be, gutted.

My thoughts are with anyone who lost someone this year and I hope you’re able to have as fantastic a Christmas as the ones we’ve lost would want us to have.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Jesus. You had some nice ideas.

Christmas · Cooking and Recipes

Slow Cooker Challenge – A Recipe Linky

Being a grown-up at Christmas is tough. People ask you what you want and you have to trawl through your tinsel-addled brain to think of something that’s not too expensive or that you haven’t already gone out and bought for yourself. This year, my aunt must have had her genius hat on, because she bought Husband and I a slow cooker, which is something I’ve wanted for yonks but just haven’t got around to buying yet.

Ooh, ahh, shiny slow-cookery goodness. (That reminds me, I must clean my hob…)

But, herein lies the rub; I have no frigging idea of what to cook in a slow cooker. I’ll probably try my Lamb Stew in it at some point, but I have it on good authority that there’s whole world of slow-cooked goodness that can be executed in one of these babies and I want to broaden our culinary horizons. Sure, I can look recipes up on the ‘net, but I want tried-and-tested, home cooked concoctions so I thought I’d turn to my readers.

I’ve hooked this post up with a little linky, so if you want to blog a recipe and link up, that would be super awesome, or if you don’t blog you can leave a comment below. There’s no prize, no weekly entry, just a one-off, good ol’ fashioned recipe swap to help me and my family take full advantage of our new kitchen gadget. I’ll be blogging my own attempts at your recipes and giving lots of link-love, so get involved and I’ll make sure you get all the credit! It’s a nice, chilled out, food related chance to blog – who doesn’t love that at Christmas?

I hope everyone is prepared, relaxed and looking forward to a great Christmas. Lots of love to you all from me, Husband, Sausage, Chuck and Happy.

LINK UP BELOW – GO ON, CLICK ON THE FROG!

Competitions

A Christmas Extravaganza – The Winners

You know when something seems like a good idea, but then turns out to be a massive pain in the bum? Well, offering people the options to have extra entries seemed fantastic at first, until the actual logistics of it all sunk in. I couldn’t think of any better way to do it than to write all of the names onto little pieces of paper and draw them out of a hat, so with the help of Sausage, my beautiful assistant, we chose two winners:

The winner of the toy bundle is Polly and the winner of the Cake Pop maker is Carol! I’ve emailed you both and await your addresses so that I can get the parcels sent out to you. Well done both of you and thanks to everyone who entered.

Family

Needing a Break

I think it’s safe to say that the last 12 months have been rather up and down for everyone in the Mum’s the Word house. This time last year we were still reeling from losing a family member and trying to work out how life could ever feel ‘normal’ again. Then, in March I was made redundant, without a word of warning. I walked into work one morning, was allowed to switch on my computer, take off my coat and get settled down before I was told “we won’t be needing you any more, you can go straight home again”.

Around this time, I started to fixate on the idea of us getting away as a family, even just somewhere that would be perfect for Weekend breaks.

Summer was nice, but Sausage starting school was possibly one of the most stressful things to ever happen to us as she hated it so much at the beginning. Thankfully for her, and if I’m honest a little bit for me and my aching heart, once her anxiety wore off she took to it like a duck to water and has been excelling ever since, but September and some of October was an emotional car-wreck for all of us.

Then, the ills started. I was poorly for so long that my GP suspected glandular fever, but it turned out that I was just having my butt handed to me by these horrid viruses that are doing the rounds and in fact none of us seem to have fully recovered, Sausage having been off school for almost a week with high temperatures.

What I’m getting at is this: I need a break. We all do. I adore my daughter more than anything else in existence, but if I have to spend another night being woken up twice an hour to have her nose wiped (she’s extremely snot-averse and wiping for her is preferable to the episodes of vomiting that her doing it would induce!), I’ll lose my mind.

I’d dearly love to take a break in February half term with my little family, providing we could find someone to look after Chuck. A change of scenery would be such great tonic for all of us and having seen reviews of the Wave Hotel on other blogs, I reckon we’d love it there! Husband and I are always saying we’d like to explore more of the British Isles and aside from going through the North to get to St. Andrews in Scotland, I’ve never visited anywhere north of Nottingham, so a weekend in Skeggy would satisfy two of my wants!

Do you have any plans for post-Christmas relaxation?

Christmas · Competitions · Review

A Christmas Extravaganza – Two Competitions!

Every so often, I get asked to review something or do a giveaway on my blog and just recently I was offered the chance to give away a whole bundle of things, which should make Christmas a whole lot easier for one lucky Mum’s the Word reader.

Courtesy of UKMums.tv, I’ve been given 12, yes TWELVE toys to give away to one reader and the haul of goodies is as follows:

1. A Zhu Zhu Pet – These little critters are super popular at the moment and make a brilliant stocking filler for a little Zhu Zhu fan!

2. Mould and Paint Christmas – Perfect for your budding crafters, this set comes with everything you need to make and paint your own Christmas decorations.

3. Klutzy the Crab from Disney’s Club Penguin

A six-inch plush of Klutzy, from Disney’s ever-popular Club Penguin.

4. Childrens World Map Puzzleball

This one’s brilliant, not only is it a 3D puzzle, at the end of it, you end up with a fully functional rotating globe, so it’s fun, educational and stimulating all at once. (I quite want one of these for myself…!)

5. Rastamouse Talking Plush

If you’ve read this, you’ll know that we reviewed one of these a month or so ago, and Sausage loves hers! Full of songs and sayings from the show, this plush is a brilliant addition to the toy box.

6. Sylvanian Families Squirrel Family

We’ve bought Sausage a whole bunch of Sylvanian Families stuff this year because we just love it all, but the Squirrel Family is especially cute, even by Sylvanian standards!

7. Mission Earth

Not only is this family board game a great way to teach your kids how to be eco-friendly, it’s all made from recycled cardboard, contains no plastic and was invented by a group of school girls for the Young Enterprise Scheme.

8. Wild Science Face Mask Laboratory

I absolutely love this one, it’s essentially a good ol’ fashioned chemistry set, but it’s aimed at young girls and the end result of your experiments is that you’ve made some lush face masks. A brilliant way to get girls into science.

9. A Selection of Animals

We discovered Schleich toys a while back as Sausage is mad about animals I wanted her to have something like the ELC animals that my little sister used to collect. Brilliant quality and beautiful toys for girls or boys.

10. Fireman Sam Ambulance

Fireman Sam is one of the programmes that I remember from when I was a kid, it started in 1987 and it’s still going strong! This ambulance comes with a Nurse Flood figure and first aid box.

11. A 50th Anniversary Etch-a-Sketch

Speaking of things that’ve been around for a while, Etch-a-Sketch is celebrating its golden anniversary with a, well, GOLDEN Etch-a-Sketch! Create something amazing with this classic toy.

12. Morbs Ultimate Triple Pack

According to Amazon, these are “sensational ‘Ping Pong’ looking balls that instantly MORPH into fun looking fantasy characters, simply throw, roll, blast, bounce your ball… as they land they transform from small little balls into big-headed small bodied warriors and monsters”. Apparently!

So, here’s the awesome part…I have another thing to give away too!

About a month ago, I was sent one of these sensational and truly pretty Cake Pop Makers, which bakes six cake balls in four minutes. The cakes come out perfectly spherical and perfectly moist, ready for you to decorate as you wish. Sausage and I made about ten batches of these for her nursery’s Christmas fair and we decorated them with white chocolate and edible glitter, to make magical snowball cakes!

My next plan is to make chocolate balls, covered in milk chocolate and topped with a drizzle of white chocolate and fondant holly made with this to make perfect bite-sized Christmas pudding pops!

All in all, the toy bundle is worth almost £200 and the Cake Pop Maker is worth £20, so you could win yourself a seriously good haul to make the festive season that much easier.

If you want to enter, leave me a comment below telling me whether you want to win the toys, the cake pop maker or both, along with a way to contact you (email address, Twitter ID etc.).

Also, if you’d like to pop over to the Mum’s the Word Facebook page and give me a like, follow me on Twitter or subscribe by email (in the right sidebar of this page—–>), each of these will earn you a super-dooper-extra-free entry into the competition, just let me know in the comment you leave which you’ve done, if any.

Good luck, the winner or winners will be drawn next Saturday 17th December 2011 at 8pm so that I have time to post the goodies out before Christmas.