20 recent positive news stories…

Noticed this video in my timeline this morning on Facebook, and I knew that I just had to share it.

Here’s 20 recent positive news stories that you probably didn’t know…

Weird days to celebrate with the kids

This is a great calendar to work with your kids on…  Other than the usual “National” days, these are something a little different that will guarantee to put a smile on your little one(s) face(s).

8 January – Bubble bath day

14 January – Rubber ducky day

18 January – Winnie the Pooh day

19 January – Popcorn day

24 January – Pay a compliment day

31 January – Backwards day

6 February – Eat ice cream for breakfast day

11 February – Make a new friend day

17 February – Random act of kindness day

26 February – Tell a Fairy Tale day

5 March – Learn what your name means day

20 March – International story telling day

2 April – International children’s book day

10 April – International siblings day

14 April – Laugh out loud day

18 April – International juggler’s day

25 April – International penguin day

30 April – Honesty day

1 May – Mother Goose day

4 May – “May the 4th be with you” day

10 May – Clean your bedroom day

11 May – Eat what you want day (within reason)

12 May – Limerick day

13 May – Frog jumping day

14 May – Dance like a chicken day

24 May – Scavenger hunt day

1 June – Say something nice day

6 June – Yo-yo day

7 June – Chocolate ice cream day

8 June – Best friends day

14 June – Act like a monkey day

17 June – Eat all your veggies day

26 June – Forgiveness day

29 June – International jump in a muddy puddle day

1 July – International joke day

2 July – UFO day

10 July – Teddy bears picnic day

20 July – Moon day

3 August – Watermelon day

7 August – Visit a lighthouse day

19 August – Photograph day

30 August – Frankenstein day

13 September – Positive thinking day

15 September – Make a hat day

19 September – Talk like a pirate day

22 September – Elephant appreciation day

1 October – Burst a balloon day

6 October – Mad Hatters tea party day

7 October – International smile day

14 October – International dessert day

16 October – Learn a new word!  It’s dictionary day

4 November – Pharaoh day

6 November – Saxophone day

13 November – Kindness day

17 November – Go for a walk day

21 November – International “hello” day; say “hello” to a stranger (with adult supervision)

9 December – Make a Christmas card day

20 December – Carol singing day

24 December – North Pole breakfast day

Important Deaths throughout 2016

As the end of the year draws near, I’ve begun thinking about all the world’s important people who have passed away this year.  Celebrities, scientists with amazing breakthroughs, authors and more; I couldn’t agree more when people are wishing this year would be over already.

Take a look at the compiled list below.  This compilation includes a lot of, but certainly not all “celebrity” deaths that happened throughout 2016:

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JANUARY

04 – Robert Stigwood, Entertainment Manager – managed the Bee Gees – age 81

06 – Pat Harrington Jr., Actor – Schneider on “One Day at a Time” – age 86

08 – David Bowie, Musician – (2) time Grammy winner influenced music and culture for four generations – age 69

11 – David Margulies, Actor – the Mayor in Ghost Busters I and II (1984 & 1989)- age – 78

11 – Stanley Mann, Writer – screenwriter for such films as “Conan the Destroyer”, and “Omen II”, age 87

13 – Brian Bedford, Actor – best known for being the voice of Robin Hood, in the Walt Disney classic of the same name (1973) – age 80

14 – Alan Rickman, Actor – Hans Gruber in ‘Die Hard’ and Severus Snape in ‘Harry Potter’ – age 69

14 – René Angélil, Singer / Manager – husband and manager of Celine Dion – age 73

18 – Glen Frey, Singer / Songwriter – founded The Eagles “Take It Easy”, “Peaceful Easy Feeling” – age 67

28 – Paul Kantner, Singer / Songwriter – co-founder of The Jefferson Airplane – age 74

30 – Terry Wogan, Presenter / Personality – his infamous voice gave hundreds of thousands of people pleasure in his long-running radio show, among others – age 77

FEBRUARY

03 – Maurice White, Musician / songwriter – founding member of Earth, Wind & Fire – age 74

03 – Joe Alaskey, Voice Actor – Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Tweety – age 63

04 – Joe Dowell, Pop Singer – #1 hit song “Wooden Heart” (1961) – age 76

15 – George Gaynes, Actor – Commandant Eric Lassard on the Police Academy series – age 98

19 – Harper Lee, Novelist – Pulitzer Prize for fiction (1961) for novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” – age 89

22 – Sonny James, Country Music Singer/Songwriter – the first teenage country crossover #1 single “Young Love” – age 87

25 – Tony Burton, Actor – boxing trainer to Apollo Creed and later Rocky in six “Rocky” movies – age 78

29 – Gil Hill, Police Commander/Actor – Inspector Todd in three “Beverly Hills Cop” movies – age 84

MARCH

06 – Nancy Reagan, First Lady of the U.S.(1981-1989) Husband, 40th President Ronald Reagan – age 94

08 – Sir George Martin, Producer for the “Beatles” albums, known as “The Fifth Beatle” – age 90

10 – Keith Emerson, Musician / keyboardist – created Emerson, Lake & Palmer rock group – age 71

13 – Adrienne Corri, Actress – Mrs. Alexander in A Clockwork Orange (1971) – age 85

16 – Frank Sinatra Jr., Singer – son of Frank Sinatra and a talented singer – age 72

17 – Larry Drake, Actor – Benny Stulwicz on L.A. Law (1987-1994) – age 66

17 – Paul Daniels, Magician – massive entertainer over three decades; mainly on “The Paul Daniels Magic Show”, age 77

24 – Earl Hamner, Jr., Writer/Producer – created “The Waltons” TV show – age 92

31 – Ronnie Corbett, Entertainer – Known for many decades; primarily “The Two Ronnies” with his co-star Ronnie Baker, age 85

APRIL

17 – Doris Roberts, Actress – Marie Barone on “Everybody Loves Raymond” (1996-2005) – age 90

21 – Prince, Musician – flamboyant on stage, seven Grammy Awards, “Purple Rain” – age 57

24 – Billy Paul, Singer – Grammy Award for “Me and Mrs. Jones” (1972) – age 81

MAY

19 – Alan Young, Actor – Wilbur Post on “Mr. Ed” (1961-66) – age 96

JUNE

03 – Muhammad Ali, Professional Boxer – (formerly Cassius Clay) three time heavyweight champion (1964, 1974, and 1978), proclaimed “The Greatest” – age 74

13 – Michu Meszaros, Actor / Circus Performer – was the man in the ALF costume (ALF TV Show 1986-1990) – age 76

14 – Ronnie Claire Edwards, Actress – Corabeth Walton Godsey on The Waltons (1972-81) – age 83

17 – Ron Lester, Actor – Billy Bob in movie “Varsity Blues” – age 45

19 – Anton Yelchin, Actor – Pavel Chekov in three Star Trek movies (2009-16) – age 27

27 – Mack Rice, Song writer – “Mustang Sally” & “Respect Yourself” – age 82

JULY

02 – Michael Cimino, Writer/Director – “Deer Hunter”, “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” – age 77

02 – Elie Wiesel, Jewish Writer/political activist – Holocaust survivor, and Nobel Laureate – age 87

02 – Teddy Rooney, Actor/Musician – son of Mickey Rooney and Martha Vickers – age 66

03 – Noel Neill, Actress – Lois Lane in “Adventures of Superman” (1952-58) – age 95

19 – Garry Marshall, Writer/Producer/Actor – created “Happy Days”, “Mork & Mindy”, “Laverne & Shirley” – age 81

27 – Jerry Doyle, Actor – Michael Garibaldi in “Babylon 5” (1994=-98) – age 60

AUGUST

02 – David Huddleston, Actor – Character actor “Santa Claus: The Movie” – age 85

03 – Ricci Martin, Entertainer – son of Dean Martin – age 62

13 – Kenny Baker, Actor – played R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise also played Paploo, the Ewok – age 81

25 – Jeanne Martin, Model – Orange Bowl Queen (1947) & Dean Martin’s wife – age 89

29 – Gene Wilder, Actor – Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka – age 83

SEPTEMBER

17 – Charmian Carr, Actress – Liesl Von Trapp (eldest daughter) in The Sound of Music – age 73

24 – Bill Nunn, Actor – Robbie Robertson in Spider-Man film trilogy – age 63

25 – Arnold Palmer, Golfer – One of the greatest golfers ever, did more to popularize the sport than any other golfer – age 87

OCTOBER

24 – Bobby Vee, Singer – “Take Good Care of My Baby”, “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes” – age 73

NOVEMBER

07 – Leonard Cohen, Poet / Songwriter – “Suzanne”, “Hallelujah” and “Bird on the Wire” – age 82

11 – Robert Vaughn, Actor – Napoleon Solo in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-’68) – age 83

23 – Andrew Sachs, Actor – best known for being the clumsy waiter, Manuel, in the series “Fawlty Towers”, age 86

24 – Florence Henderson, Actress / Singer – Carol Brady on “The Brady Bunch” (1969 to 1974) – age 82

25 – Fidel Castro, Dictator – Prime Minister then President of Cuba from 1959-2008 then gave same powers to his brother – age 90

25 – Ron Glass, Actor – Det. Ron Harris on “Barney Miller” (1975-1982) – age 71

28 – Jim Delligatti, McDonald’s franchisee – created The Big Mac – age 98

DECEMBER

07 – Greg Lake, Musician – founding member of Emerson, Lake & Palmer “Lucky Man” – age 69

08 – Joseph Mascolo, Actor – Stefano DiMera on “The Days of Our Lives” (1982-’85) & (1993-2001) – age 87

08 – John Glenn, WWII & Korean War Fighter Pilot. Marine Colonel. NASA Astronaut. Senator from Ohio (1974-99). Married for 73 yrs – first American to orbit the Earth (1962) – age 95

13 – Alan Thicke, Actor – Jason Seaver, the father on “Growing Pains” (1985-’92) – age 69

14 – Bernard Fox, Actor – Dr. Bombay in “Bewitched” and Colonel Crittendon in “Hogan’s Heroes” – age 89

18 – Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hungarian Actress and Socialite – Moulin Rouge (1952), married nine times to mostly wealthy men – age 99

24, Rick Parfitt, Singer / Musician – an English singer / songwriter and guitarist, best known for being one of the front men in Status Quo, age 68

25 – George Michael, Singer / Song writer – one of the duo of Wham!, and later a solo artist – age 53

27 – Carrie Fisher, Actress – Best known for playing Pricess Leia in the Star Wars movies, but Carrie Fisher was also an active feminist, age 60

28 – Debbie Reynolds, Actress – mother to Carrie Fisher, and best known for her role as “Kathy Selden” in “Singin’ in the Rain”.  It has been reported that she was rushed to hospital whilst discussing her daughters funeral planned, where she later died, age 84

How to single-handedly run a cocaine lab

I have always enjoyed gaming – occasionally collecting the rings with Sonic; bouncing crazily around, with no point to the game, with “Thing on a Spring” (Amstrad game); and even building beautiful houses with The Sims; however my passion for the gaming world really started when my hubby came along.

I’ve had an Amstrad, where you had to hook up the cassette player to the system to load a game on a tape; an Atari (which I still have somewhere); a Sega Megadrive, 16-bit; PSOne; and a PS2.  I dabbled, but never really took it seriously.

It was 2008, and my (now) husband introduced me to the xbox 360.  Mainly I just played the poker game – “Texas Hold ’em”, and I often lost my temper with the “pussycat” who always made me raise, then fold, only for me to lose out to an “orange”.  Of course, I’m talking about AI characters here, and no matter how often you lost your rag with them, you’d still end up in the same situation – shouting at the TV.

I was heavily pregnant with Donut when I thought I would give Grand Theft Auto V a try.  I must have been about 7 months gone, and I felt like I had been sentenced to bed rest by my midwife and high risk consultant.  I had just finished work, on maternity leave, and I was already bored with poker, Minecraft and Fallout: New Vegas (yeah, really), when hubby dearest suggested I give GTAV a try.

I loaded the game, had several attempts of the first mission, where Trevor, Michael and a couple of others robbed a bank (spoiler alert!), and already I was getting frustrated with it.  I wasn’t interested in the actual story – I just wanted to play the open world.  Hubby said that I had to complete the first mission to be able to unlock the open world, so I sighed, and went back to it.  It took a lot of patience and tries, but eventually I cracked it.

Once I finally got in the open world, I cheated immediately by buying a few of those ‘Shark Cards’, where it fills your account up with cash.  I then bought my high end apartment, a couple of cars, and enhanced the performance of them before taking part in random races and missions with the hubby.

Almost 18 months down the line, and I’m still playing it now – although I am only a level 63 (still good, but when you see other players in their level 400’s+, then you realise you’re still a bottom feeder), I’m just starting to get the hang of the game.

A few months ago, Rockstar introduced a new expansion pack – “Motorcycle Club”, and I bit.  My best asset in the game had been my bike – a Dinka Double T, and I was a rather dab hand at riding it.  I had millions of (deliberate) near-misses, and after I supped it up to the maximum enhancements, it was a pretty smooth and speedy ride.  Very few outrun me, and I was always guaranteed to lose a 5-star wanted level from the police.  Granted, it took me a long time to be able to do it, but I got there.

Anyway, I digress…

I jumped straight in to the stunt races that were now available, as I realised they (along with solo missions) were the easiest way to raise a bit of cash.  Once I got enough funding, I went to the foreclosure site (on the internet, in the game) and purchased a clubhouse.  It wasn’t great, and I couldn’t afford any upgrades, but I didn’t care.  I had my clubhouse, and I was now president of my own motorcycle club.

Only I wasn’t.

Even though I had bought the club, I had to go in to the select menu to make myself the president (you have to do this in every session you enter, otherwise you are just a civilian).

I think I’ve had my own MC club for about 2 months now, and it was only this weekend (just gone) that I managed to save up enough of the cash (again!) to buy a sideline business.  I had a fair amount of cash, and a few different businesses to choose from.  I had the choice of buying a document forgery office, a weed farm, counterfeit cash, a meth lab, or a cocaine lab.  I had just enough money to buy the smallest cocaine lab, as, through research, this was shown to be the best choice for generating income.

Of course, as with any business – real or virtual – you have to have supplies to be able to create any produce, so that had to be my number one priority.

When entering the black market, you have a two options.  You can either buy your supplies, or steal them – where you have to go and get them yourself.

I’ve noticed that if you choose the latter, the more you do, the harder it gets.

If you’re a player already, you know that you can see who else is in the world with you, by pressing down on the digipad.  Alongside the other players names, you will often see either a picture of a motorbike, or a triangle.  Sometimes, there will be no icon next to the name…  If there is no icon, this means that this player is not a part of a MC, or corporation.  The triangle represents ‘Securoserve’, and they are a CEO of a business, or working for one.  The motorbike represents their status as either being a MC president, or a biker – in that gang.

The more players that are in the game – especially if there are more MC players, the more risky your supply run can be.

There is a simple reasoning behind this.  When you collect the supplies, a “blip” is put out across the world to say exactly what you have done.  This is a warning to other players, telling them what you have done, and they have the opportunity to literally chase you to steal the supplies for their own uses.

It’s the same as when the final product is made, and you’re ready to sell – it’s all about timing your stealings and sellings appropriately.  You don’t know who else is around, and who you need to pass to be able to complete your business needs.

My timings surround just that.  If there are lots of players in the world, I buy my supplies.  If there are just a handful, I steal.

Let’s backtrack slightly – after the stealing / buying, yet before you do the drug run.

When you have your supplies at your warehouse, always try to upgrade your business as quickly as possible.  Obviously, you need a fair amount of cash to do this too, but with the adversary modes that are currently offering 2x cash and 2x RP, it’s well worth doing an hour or two of those first of all (personally, I find the Deadline adversary modes hilarious!).  When upgrading, security should be your main priority, followed by the staff, followed by your actual lab.  It may make more sense to you to do it the other way around, but when your fiddling the law, securing your business from any raids or thefts should be the way to go.

On entering your warehouse, you get two new bars showing at the bottom right of your screen.  The top bar is your product; the bottom is your supplies.  I tend to use the black market computer in the warehouse to give me my options, as I find this a lot easier to understand.

When I go in to the “Sell Stock” option, I get two options.  Both are to sell my produce, but one is ‘safer’ than the other.

There are two amounts offered.

The lower is based in Blaine County, and is a much less hazardous route to take.

The higher amount is based in Los Santos itself, and can be incredibly dangerous.  You run the risk of losing all your stock by being robbed, or by being killed…  Which you can respawn and try to get your stock back, but it all depends on how far away from your death-spot you are, and who it was who killed you.  Some other players who have business interests of their own could hunt you, take your stock, and you’re at a loss.  If you’re one of the lucky ones, you just get a wanted level, and perhaps shot by the police, and then when you respawn, you can go and claim your items again.  I’ve been killed once by the police, and they did not confiscate my stock, but I cannot comment that it will never happen…

If I’m being honest, I’ve got a bit of a greed on me, and I have never taken the lesser amount.

So far I have made approximately 10 supply runs, and just 3 deliveries.  From the deliveries, I have brought in a little over $630k.  I could have got a lot more, but I’m inpatient.

Do’s and Don’t’s for Dummies

  • Do make every effort to steal your supplies.
  • Do buy your supplies when the servers are full.
  • Don’t steal from the lone biker…  Chances are that they have no one else in their club (same as me), and it’s difficult enough for them to do the supply run, with the general bad guys on their tails, than having you hunt them down too.  Chances are if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone too.
  • Don’t sell your produce at the lower level.  Take a chance, and it’ll be worth your time.
  • Do upgrade, but do it in order.  Security first, then staff, then the lab.
  • Do practice your flying skills.  There are a lot of selling opportunities that require you to fly a plane, or helicopter, so make sure you’re a bit of a dab hand to prevent crashing and losing your stock.
  • Don’t worry about the police being on your tail.  If you’ve outrun them before, you can outrun them now.
  • Do bare in mind that once you’re an MC president, you CANNOT go in to passive mode.
  • Don’t worry if no one accepts your invite for being a part of your MC.  No one ever accepts my invites (except for hubby, when he’s playing), and I’m doing pretty well for myself.
  • Do keep your eye on your map.  If you’re hunting for supplies / stock, look out for the red blips.  Also, if you’re the one being hunted, you can usually tell by the amount of players blips coming closer to your position.
  • Do make sure that you’re fully stocked up on your ammo…  Only got one homing missile left?  You need more…  You never know who’s coming after you in a fighter jet.

So, did I miss anything?  Probably, but I’m still learning myself.

Happy new year! It’s confession time…

Happy 2016 everyone!  I hope you all had an amazing Christmas, and a wonderful New Years Eve celebrations.

It was slightly different than the usual in the Insanely Normal household…  We went to my parents house for Christmas dinner, as usual, however, when we got there, my mum asked if I had any meat in our fridge…  I must have looked rather puzzled, as she quickly continued with, “we can’t have the meat that your dad bought, as it’s not ‘dinner meat'”.

My dad had bought a rather large Serrano ham full leg, and although it still had the trotter on, it looked rather tasty.  Dad had sliced the smallest amount off the ham on Christmas morning, to taste it.  To say he was disappointed was an understatement.  He described it more as a “tapas meat” – the type that you use to wrap the likes of asparagus, or the like.

I had to taste it, to see what the fuss was about.  Surely it couldn’t be that bad..?

Yep.  It was.  It was like chewing on the sole of an old pair of shoes…  I think it took me almost 5 minutes to chew, and swallow the smallest slither of ham.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that the slice was about 1 inch by 1 inch, and was wafer thin.  Bleurgh.

So that was our Christmas dinner…  A plate full of veg.  Thank God mum had a packet of fresh beef meatballs in the fridge…  It was certainly different, and definitely one that will be remembered for many a year to come.

New Years Eve & Day came and went…  Again, we celebrated at my parents house.

Skip forward a couple of rather lethargic days, and we’re on today.  Sunday, 3 January 2016.

After church this morning, I made a big decision.  I would pull out everything that I have stored in the food cupboard, fridge and freezer, and make a stock-list.  I would then go on to prepare a meal plan.

I bet you’re waiting for the confession part..?  Afterall, that’s the title of this post, right?  Ok, here goes.

Hi.  My name is Barbara.  In my household, we waste A LOT of food.

I’m not just talking about filling the plates up too much, when dinner is made…  I’m talking about buying foodstuffs, putting them away in the cupboard / fridge / freezer, only to pull them out again several months later to chuck in the bin.  My decision to sort and plan meals would mean that we would not buy any more foodstuffs (other than bread, milk and fresh veg – when required) until the cupboard, fridge and freezer were completely empty.  I mean, we’re bound to save a few pennies there, right?

I seem to remember making a bit of a blog post about wasting eggs earlier on in 2015…

Back to the subject.

We have one of those fridge-freezer combis…  The freezer is constantly full, yet we barely dip in there.  Our fridge is practically empty, and although we do tend to fill it up completely once every 7-10 days, most of the fresh meat ends up in the freezer.  See a bit of a conveyor belt there?

As for our food cupboard, it is full.  Full of tins, packets, sachets…  Whenever we buy tins and / or packets, we place them in front of the items already in the cupboard.  Bad habit, I know.

Anyway, I pulled everything out, and made a few lists…

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The list above, on the right, is for “Donuts'” items.

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Although cleaning out the cupboards, fridge and freezer can be thought of as a rather daunting task, I did actually enjoy making a stocktake!

After the list making, it was time to create some form of meal plan.  I made up a quick template – listing the days (Mon-Sun) reading down the left hand side, and the week (1,2,3 and 4) across the top.  I would then have the hand-written lists of produce by my side, as I carefully planned meals.

At the end of the plan, I had proposed a plan, filling 21 days for main meals, using almost everything that I have already.

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The plan was then handed to hubby-dearest, to proof-read, and to give his opinion on.  I got the “go ahead” straight away, and the above is what we come up with.

The only thing that we’re thinking about now is, “what about lunches?

So, we’re altering the above – slightly.

We’re settled on all of the above as meals, but we’re now not limiting ourselves to only having (i.e.) fish, chips, peas & carrot on Saturday for our evening meal.  I mean, what is we want the pizza, topped with extra cheese for lunch on that day too?

So, what we have now is a list of meals.  Still, 21 items, but now this will more likely last us 10.5 days instead of 21 (accounting for 1 lunch and 1 evening meal a day).  Do you know what though?  I don’t mind.  The food quantity that we are stocking is still on the decrease, and hopefully, will not be wasted!

Let’s just say – it will now give me something to look forward to, and may even mean that we can experiment a little more, as we’re going to have a “blank canvas” every time we need to go food shopping.

We’ll see.

10 things that made Christmas in the 80’s the best…

I’ve neglected this blog a little recently, so I think it’s about time that I brought a little “Festiveness” (is that even a word?  No?  Oh well…  I like it, so I’m going to use it anyway) to you, in the form of a list!  Afterall, who doesn’t love a good list?  🙂

Christmas just isn’t the same nowadays is it? We find it very difficult to feel that magic we felt as kids. The whole experience has changed so much over the last couple of decades, with Internet shopping, a million TV channels and a whole host of electronic gadgetry available to us, it’s easy to forget the simpler times.

In no particular order, let’s give you my top ten reasons as to why Christmas was so much better in the 80’s.

  1. TV Times / Radio Times

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With no internet or smartphones the only way to find out what was coming up on TV was on teletext or in TV listing mags. The TV Times and Radio Times were the go to TV guides and of course, back in the day, you had to buy both to know what was on all the channels. When the bumper Christmas Edition was released no one could stop us sitting and circling everything we were going to watch over the festive period.

2.  Selection boxes

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Let’s face it they were just better back then.  The bars were bigger, they tasted better and they had some awesome treats inside!  Oh, you also definitely got your moneys’ worth.

3.  The Argos catalogue

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The Argos catalogue, or any other catalogue for that matter (remember Index?!).  We couldn’t browse the internet back then so this is what we used to find things to put on our list for Santa!

4.  The music

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At least we had a couple of REAL Christmas N0.1’s in the 80s!  The charts were filled with Christmas classics from Shakin’ Stevens, The Pogues, Band Aid, Paul McCartney and Wham!

5.  The movies

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We had some classic Christmas movies in the 80s.  They were that good they are repeated every year on TV!  Santa Claus The Movie was one of my favourites, at the time.  What was yours?

6.  TV Christmas specials

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Christmas specials were the business in the 80s.  What ever your favourite TV show was, I bet they did a Christmas special. Some of the Kids Christmas Specials were a little interesting to say the least!

7.  Decorations

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They may seem a bit old fashioned and out of style now but back in the day the louder, the shinier, and the brighter, the better!  These decorations were hung all over our house – attached to the ceiling with a drawing pin!

8.  Christmas shopping

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Remember when we actually had to leave the house to do our Christmas Shopping?  The high streets were packed at this time of year with people trying to find the perfect gift for their loved ones.  Shops went all out with the Christmas decorations, and you couldn’t carry all of the FREE carrier bags you’d been given to get your purchases home!  Oh, and let’s not forget, that for some reason, it was also much easier to buy gifts to people too!

9.  Christmas present hunt

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I’m sure kids all over the world still do this, but do you remember when your parents weren’t looking, you used to dive into the cupboards and wardrobes to try and get a sneak peak at all the gifts they had bought you? You’d have to be quick though before they sent them all off to Santa for him to deliver on Christmas Day!

10.  The toys

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Toys in the 80s were just better.  There’s no doubt about it all of the things we had as kids were well…  Just cooler than the toys that are around now!  I never did get that Mr Frosty though (thanks mum) 😦  Ha ha x

20 ways kids make Christmas magical

It’s easy for Christmas BC (Before Children) to feel more about our hangovers and expanding waistlines (not to mention our overdrafts) than any real festive spirit. Then you have a child and all that changes. Not since you were a nipper, anxiously listening out for Father Christmas in your PJs, have you felt so infused with joy and enchantment.

Here are 20 ways that Christmas becomes magical when you’re a parent …

1. It used to drive you bonkers that Christmas started pretty much in October (oh, yes it did…) but now you can’t wait for the shops to bust out the Christmas lights and to hear Noddy Holder’s dulcet tones. Ooh, and the advent calendars, and the ads and the Christmas lists…  How many times have you rewritten yours?

2. Nothing can prepare you for the heart-melting sweetness of watching your little one in their very first Christmas nativity or school play, whether they have a starring role or not (it’s Gning’s first Nativity on 7 December).  Don’t forget your tissues!

Children's nativity play

3. Kids make it OK to sport clashing decorations and an OTT Christmas tree.  In fact, the more of mash-up of colours and styles of baubles, the better.

4. It’s FINALLY acceptable to buy chocolate decorations again. Just remember to leave a few for the kids, eh?

5. Their Christmas list to Santa reads like a stock-taking sheet of ToysRUs and Smyths combined.  But it’s the ‘and I’ve been soooo good’ line that really makes you smile.

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6. Thank goodness this year you’ve got a good excuse for the misshapen mince pies.  All your toddler’s own work, yes?

7. You love channelling your inner-storyteller with stories of Father Christmas and seeing your children’s eyes widen with delight.

8. Creating your very own traditions is something you’ll share for a lifetime.  Maybe you write a Christmas poem together, or put on a little festive play for the grandparents?  Or leave one more present in the garden to be discovered – “Oh look!  Santa must have dropped it!”

9. Leaving a glass or milk (or something stronger) for Father Christmas, and a carrot for Rudolph, never loses it’s charm.  And neither does…

10. …drinking that something stronger on Christmas Eve, when the wee ones are safely asleep.

11. Nothing beats that amazing feeling of satisfaction on Christmas Eve when everything is wrapped and ready for the next day.  Savour the scene – because the next day it’s carnage!  Hope your recycling bins are empty…

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12. Not to encourage your inner bah, humbug, but it’s a great time of year to dodge any tedious social engagements: honestly, babysitters are so unreliable…

13. Family films are no longer an indulgence, they’re mandatory.  From the Muppet’s Christmas Carol to Home Alone, it’s the perfect season to snuggle up on the sofa.

14. Talking of which, make your brood hot chocolate with marshmallows. And have one yourself.

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15. Place your bets on what time Christmas Day officially starts.  And yes, it feels magical even though it’s 5am.

16. As you watch them open their pressies, you remember the fizzy feeling of thrill and excitement you had as a child.  And seeing the joy your children bring to their grandparents is priceless.

17. Eating together as a family is something to take time over and savour.  Who cares if the potatoes are a tiny bit burnt, or the sprouts a bit hard?  It doesn’t have to be perfect to be appreciated.

Family-Christmas-Pictures-2

18. Snow is what dreams are made of when you’re five.  And snow at Christmas…  Cue delirious children and giggling parents!

19. The pleasure of tumbling back into a warm and cosy house after a good old stomp outside brings the colour to everyone’s cheeks.

20. Knowing at the close of Christmas day that the hard work is over for another year – and despite the odd flurry of tears and tantrums – they’ve had a pretty wonderful day.  Well done, you.  Only 365 days to go…

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