Monday, 10 January 2011

Toby's first Christmas

He was hardly old enough to appreciate the wrapping paper, never mind the presents, but nevertheless 2010 was Toby's first Christmas, and he had the outfit to prove it.


It was also our first Christmas in our own house, in Texas, so it was quite exciting to decide how we wanted to celebrate it. In the event the celebrations got spread over several days, which might not be normal but was certainly fun! The original plans had to be reworked when Mom's flight was cancelled due to snow at Heathrow, so instead of arriving a week before Christmas she actually arrived the day after. We were just glad she could come at all, so cheerfully moved the big Christmas meal to Monday. It's still in the 12 days of Christmas, right?



Mom with children and grandchild

Christmas Eve is the day all the churches have services - one local place advertised five identical services, which made me think that their choir must have all had sore throats on Christmas Day! Our church plant had too few people around to have a service, so we went to their supporting church instead and enjoyed the good music and family atmosphere.


Toby meets Grandma

Christmas Day kicked off with cranberry orange muffins for breakfast, courtesy of
Nigella. I'd made cranberry orange muffins to a different recipe before, but these were definitely superior. I have to admit the cooking did have a bit of a Nigella theme this holiday; I'm a big fan of her recipes. We opened our gifts to each other in the morning, then John and Kristal arrived from their long road trip in the afternoon and we had another round of present-opening.


Next day we Skyped Graham's family, who had managed to rig up a webcam at his aunt and uncle's. Technology is wonderful - they all grouped on the sofa at that end, and we felt almost as if we were sitting in the same room! They enjoyed seeing Toby "live", having only seen photos up to that point.

Monday was Christmas Mark II, with more presents and much cooking. The star dish was ham cooked in Coca Cola (yes, a Nigella recipe) . This didn't quite work as planned; by the time it had finished simmering the meat was falling off the bone and it was all we could do to heave it out of the pot in one piece. It was beautifully tender, and besides, I didn't actually have any mustard powder or black treacle for the glaze, so we ditched the idea of finishing it in the oven and just tucked in.
Toby enjoyed all the extra company and seemed to develop by leaps and bounds just in one week. He's definitely smiling at people now, can lift his head up very well, and even gave us his first coo (though he still prefers grunting and wailing as means of communication). He's getting big, too - we just moved him into 3-6 month size clothes, even though he's not quite 3 months yet. It's sooo much easier to get him into slightly baggy than slightly too tight pajamas, and besides, I needed some new designs to look at! I know you all love them, so here's plenty of Toby-photos to finish with.



Snuggling with Aunt Kristal



Look at my toys, Uncle John!



Smiley happy baby



Zombi-i-e-e-e!



Big blue nappy (yes, he's mostly in cloth diapers now)



All dressed up for a winter walk

Family photo


Just cos I's cute!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Our house, in the middle of our street

Finally, the long-awaited house photos. Having family to visit provided an incentive to get the place both organised and tidy, and therefore in a decent state to have its photo taken.

Yes, we are now a two-car family. Toby and I get around in the tinted-window gangsta-mobile.

Thought we might as well take the opportunity to have a family shot. Toby enjoyed meeting his aunt and uncle very much.

The front door is at right angles to the street.
And we've got a nice L-shaped porch area at the front.
Coming inside, we really liked the open layout with the archway through to the kitchen.
The kitchen-dining area, with the back door just visible on the far left.
Looking back towards the front door, with the study mid-right and the entrance to the corridor on the far right.

Toby and Graham surfing the web. The built-in shelving was another plus point for the house. This room was previously dark green which made it very gloomy, so we made it a painting project pretty quickly.

Our bedroom is off the kitchen, with nice big windows on to the back garden.

Toby shares it at the moment, in a bassinet. That's the door to the bathroom, and beyond that the door to our walk-in closet.
The bathroom, and me taking the photo.
The other bedrooms are reached from the corridor off the living room. This is the guest room.

This will be Toby's room, but got pressed into service as a second guest room, hence the airbed.

The crib was generously donated by a friend of some friends, whom we had never even met.
Our back porch. We moved in just in time to enjoy some al fresco meals while it was neither too hot nor too cold.

The back garden. Being the middle of winter, the grass is not at its greenest. Then again, it's pretty dry in summer too.
The house is about five years old, in a modern housing estate (or subdivision as they call them out here). A little more suburban than I pictured myself, and we feel very American now with our walk-in closets and automatic garage door. Still, it's a lovely house, and a nice quiet area for a certain little boy to play in, so we're happy here for a few years.