2014 Wrap Up!

by chris cunningham

For a long I’ve put off writing one of those monthly “This month you did this…” blog posts for obvious reasons. Everybody does that, they’re cheesy, what’s so interesting to people outside the immediate circle? etc.

Well, it turns out there’s a lot of good reasons. The one that has struck me most recently is that every time one of his favorite shows comes on he immediately wants to dance to the theme song. The best part is he’ll run over and grab my hand to get me to dance with him. Some day he’s not going to do that. I don’t know when that will be but I hope it’s not for a long long time. But, he will stop at some point. I’d like him to know he use to do that. Maybe he’ll find it interesting to know what mummy and daddy did with him or our thoughts about him. I have very limited memory of early childhood and it’s mostly through pictures that fill the gaps. So why not fill these early times with a written history? Oral histories get lost.

The other reason I’m finding these times interesting is how much, exponentially, he is learning. From birth to about 1 year it’s slow going as far as their communication. They’re busy growing, pooping, sleeping, and making cool noises, but until they’re brain grabs some traction it’s rather by the book. Feed him, change him, keep him warm, make faces at him, etc.

I’ve been trying to make a special poster of him for big events. I’ve been wanting to do an album cover for awhile but couldn’t come up with anything. Then after buying Christmas jumpers and listening to Phil Spector Christmas albums, it struck me. A Christmas album cover poster. We’ve got two big events coming up this year, another birthday and a new Star Wars coming out. That’s gotta be celebrated in poster form, right?! My little padawan.

All that said it’s been a very busy year and my weekends are consumed with trips to the store, entertaining Xavier, and making cups of tea for Liza. This has left very little time for opening the lid of the computer to edit photos for this webpage of mine. Which is 12 years old next month I might add. There have been some big gaps in posts but not adventures.

So… Dear Xavier. Ha. Can’t do it! Let’s do a year in review.

In January we moved to England. Looking back at the pictures of Xavier he seems so small now. He was not even a year old and arrived in England with a passport and social security number. He is now a dual citizen. Something neither Liza and I have. In May our little Gemini man celebrated his 1st birthday with a Frozen themed party. Amira made an Olaf and Sven cake and we also had Olaf and Sven standees. All sorts of helium ‘boons as you call them, and it was amazing! Last December I had received a Frozen screener and we put it on and you watched it nearly all the way through. Mesmerized by the snow effects you’ve watched it over and over and over. I can honestly say you probably watched it over a 100 times at this point. I think I’m being conservative in that number. Looking back at an old video, whenever Elsa’s making snow you raise your hands as if doing it too. Argh, I’ve switched tense and writing TO you. Haw. So yes, birthday 1 was a big success and you started to grasp the idea of opening presents. You didn’t much care what was in them just tearing paper was fun.

I started the year at MPC hired for the film Exodus. When I arrived I was told I would be on Guardians of the Galaxy for a bit because they needed some help and then would go back. I then went back to Exodus, and then went back again to Guardians because they needed help again for the final push. Then everybody moved to Exodus because it was now behind schedule because we were all on Guardians. We finished Exodus in September and now I’m on The Jungle Book through next year. Until they need us on another show. Haw. I don’t much like London. It’s a great place to visit but a very trying place to live. Just this week I saw an article about how it’s cheaper to live in Barcelona and commute to London each day. It’s that’s crazy.

In late August I got very ill. For about a month+ I was non stop sick. Possibly the worst cold or flu I’ve ever had. It was awful. It just kept moving around from throat, sinus, lungs, aches, ugh. At one point I thought it was over because for three days I felt pretty good. Then it relapsed and I felt even worse.

The summer was quite nice but I didn’t take any time off because of the show schedules. A few times I had to stay in London because of work which made it really hard to be away from Liza and Xavier. They came down to London in August and we did a bit of sightseeing. Xavier was quite ill though and didn’t have a very good time. The pictures are good though, but he hated the Tube. Too dark and noisy at the time. I think he’d be fine with it now.

In September my Mom came for a three week visit. I was able to take a few weeks off after she got to London. She arrived on a British Airways A380. She spent a few days in London resting and we did some sight seeing. We took a canal boat tour and went to Greenwich. Friday I put her on the train to Liverpool while I worked and then I came up on the train later that evening. Turns out that night was one of the worst train commutes I’ve ever had. An absolute nightmare and glad my mom left earlier. I was still very sick and the journey was nearly 6 hours long and the train was so late I missed other connections and ended up having to just take a taxi home at some point. I got some sleep and finally my cold started to lift. And two weeks of holiday started.

For my birthday we went to the Lake District and rented a cottage in Grasmere and it was an incredible 4 days. Picturesque England at its finest. The rush hour traffic was cows blocking the road on their way to pasture every morning and evening. Xavier loved it! Mom loved it too. The next week we attempted a short trip to Wales but Xavier had a slight fever. We kept an eye on it but he was really upset at everything. We got to Bangor, Wales and checked into the hotel and got ready for bed. The neighbors upstairs were a nightmare. Two kids wearing Frankenstein boots jumping up and down non stop. Xavier’s fever reached a 104 and we called Amira and she suggested we call the local emergency line if we felt like we needed too. It turns out the line doesn’t work in Wales, only England. I made the decision to get the hell out of there so we could call the doctor when we got back in England. Xavier was really upset at this point and we gave him some Calpol to bring down the fever. I went down to Mom’s room, she was in bed watching TV, and told her we’re leaving!

We got ready in 15 minutes hit the road and an hour half later we were able to talk to a doctor. Liza was on the phone with them for 1/2 an hour going through the questions, had he hit his head, is he eating, etc. I was just glad he was getting home to be in his own bed. He eventually fell asleep in the car and we arrived home all stressed out about midnight. Good decision though. He was back on his feet in a few days. That Sunday night my Mom and I headed back to London and I took her to Heathrow and saw her off. Sad to see her go.

In October Liza’s sister Amira got married in Marrakech. I only took a week off because I wasn’t sure we’d even be in England as my contract was ending before then. Turns out it would have been great to have two weeks but I needed to pay for the trip anyway! So back to work after a week. I flew into Marrakech from London and everyone else came in from Manchester. I got in first and waited in the horrendous passport control line that greets every arrival. They really need to fix that bottleneck. It’s by far the worst one I’ve ever seen. 2 hours for that line alone. Anyway, that’s always the worst part.

I waited by the luggage for another hour and a half until everyone else got through. We hopped in the mini buses and headed to our first hotel. Very tired and the beds were good but the hotel was mediocre. Cold pool, okay food, nice enough staff, but just not great. I liked the room the best, which is never my first priority. It is for others, but nice enough is good enough for me. I took a trip to the Square and it’s so in your face I don’t really enjoy it but it’s so fascinating. I almost wish I could go with an invisibility cloak to look around and not be hassled. That’s its charm to some, but not me. We then checked into the hotel where the wedding would be. The nice thing was having the hotel fully booked by the wedding party. No strangers milling about. I once again found the pool too cold. Warmer than the first place but come on people! The staff was amazing though and Xavier loved every one of them and they were so good to him. He was King of the Casbah. I’d put him the pram and we walk in the gardens and I’d ask him which way he’d want to go and he’d point and say, “There!”. He loooved it because it was the first time I think he felt he had control of his environment and could make a decision on his own. He still does it to this day. “There!” A big milestone in independence. The wedding was great and I had to leave right after so missed a nice stay at the Four Seasons the following week. Grrrrr…

You have to work Thanksgiving Day and the day after here in England. What up with that? Where’s my 4 day weekend? Taking pity on me and also to connect Xavier off with his American roots Liza and her mum put together a Thanksgiving feast on the weekend. I was able to locate some pumpkin pie ingredients at the American Store in London and Pat cooked a big bird with all of the fixins. Liza made her first pumpkin pies and they came out great! And in true Thanksgiving tradition we over ate, loosened our pants, and fell asleep on the couch. Some more than others.

Christmas arrived quickly and in the excitement we bought every toy on the planet for Xavier. Well, let’s just say he scored this year. Post Frozen, the movie of choice has been Cars. Also the CBeebies show Chuggington, and of course Thomas and Friends. Trains and cars are now the go to toys. We picked a selection of engines out and also purchased a large play table to build a wooden track for him. Oh and also a parking garage set. He got a lot of engines… Here we go… Thomas, Percy, Emily, Hiro from Thomas and Friends, and Winston, Old Puffer Pete, and Frostini from Chuggington. He already had a steam engine from York when we went to the National Railway Museum. We wrapped his table in paper and had him come in the room Christmas morning and he tore it right open and made his OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOh face. So cute his head nearly exploded. That was about 10 in the morning. He only left the table twice that day. Once to eat and another to open the parking garage present which was just as big a hit. At 10pm he’d had enough. Exhausted. He just spent 10 hours playing with a train set, it was amazing. I think we have 9 hours of video. He must of circled the table a 100 times playing with all the bits. Ahhhhhh the satisfaction of a good gift.

New Years was a new year. Just a number really. Everybody went up to bed before midnight and I decided to start this novella. It will more likely be less pictures and more text this year due to the nature of the beast.

Happy 2015 from England.