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Friday, September 21, 2012

Christmas Countdown

(94 now :)


About a month or more ago a friend texted me asking if I had started Christmas preparations and what was I doing this year

Christmas? I was just recovering from two birthday parties!

She said she asked herself.. I want to be like Bobbie this year.

Ha Ha that had me blushing. Then I felt bad cause this girl was doing nothing!


{Coincidently My neighbour who is not computer minded was struggling with her daughters Cat costume for Book week. She said I asked myself "What would Bobbie do? - She'd google it!"  LOL she knows me! and subsequently found a great cat mask and printed it off! }


On a facebook group this week someone asked about Christmas traditions that involved service for little kids. My long winded answer(s) got me all excited about planning out what I want to do this year!

The next day a dear friend asked on facebook what were my Christmas Day Traditions.

Today I was asked to contribute to a Christmas Midnight Madness Craft night...


I feel like a regular Mrs Claus! The Pressure! And don't have just have the most darling friends!



If you know me I've never had an original thought in my life

I'm all about copying.

Which is why I like to share what I've found to do



I shared a few ideas for service but ended coming to the conclusion that the easiest way is to take a Christmas tradition you already love { baking cookies, Christmas Dinner, watching Christmas lights etc} and find a way to share it with a neighbour, friend or stranger or incorporate others into your activity. Why haven't I thought of that before!! It got my mind whirring on our favourite christmas traditions - I'm listing them here so I have them all in one place and thinking up a twist for service including them. Click on the links to see the photos and how to's.


Christmas Books      see here and  here
I love collecting Christmas Books and reading them each night the month of December. They are about the only books I buy. I've been a bit disappointed with the Christmas books on offer at the shops I frequent {aussie christmas with santa drinking beer, to babyish, same titles every year etc} and sad when I read about beautiful books available in other countries. So I just did my first online book order and ordered some of the ones I've seen mentioned around the internet. I'm so excited.

As we love this tradition it would be easy for us to share it with another. Pick up a few extra books to give another family. My girls would love to be part of a service like that. We have one book that was gifted us by friends who now live overseas far away. Each year the girls ask me to read out the inscription and ask all about that friend (who is now becoming hazy to their memory) it is so sweet and I would love for another family to enjoy and think fondly of us :)


Christmas Pillowcases    see here and here
Each year we make a (4) new Christmas Pillowcases for 'sweet Christmas dreams' the month of December. A few of my kids friends have commented they would like on too. It would be simple to make another to gift.


Jesus Ornaments  see here
A few years ago I noticed a distinct lack of religiousity in my tree decorations. We make little laminated ornaments using pictures of Christ from old ensigns and catalogues with a scripture included on the back. There is no excuse for me not to start now in making many of these to give away attached to treats and presents and for just because.


Grandparents Christmas Dinner  see here  here  here and here
One of our most favourite Christmas Traditions. A Christmas Dinner with the works for our parents (grandparents) a week or more before Christmas Day. A little bit of effort but so fun. I wonder if I could organize something similar to do for a friend or stranger to invite them along to.

Sleeping under the Tree
Once school is out we have a night where we sleep under the Christmas tree, under the twinkling fairy lights. Originally it started out as just the kids but the last 3/4 years us parents have joined in too. We grab all the mattresses and pillows and make the lounge room wall to wall beds and watch a movie and play games and have fun lazing around together.

Donating to a Charity
Each year we donate to charity of some sort. We've collected items for homeless shelters, shoebox appeal for children overseas, made food baskets to deliver ourselves and done pixie drops. It can be hard to find a way to incorporate little children in service projects. I usually take my kids with me to the shops to  pick out the items that will be donated.


Christmas Movies
Over the years I've slowly been collecting Christmas movies. With a projector it would be so fun to organize an outdoor Christmas movie night (if only the sun didnt set so late!) invite the neighbourhood, friends etc to our backyard


Christmas Pyjamas   see here and  here
Every Christmas Eve the children receive a new set of PJs. Its a fun tradition. You know what the present is, but nice to sleep in new PJ's and for photos christmas morn.
There are several charities that collect Pajama's for children in hospital or those taken into Child Protection. I think it would be a great idea to show the kids an extra set of PJ for charity or have them choose a pair to donate The Pyjama Foundation


Nativity    see here and here
December 1st is the day for 'putting out the nativity sets in our house. We put them up before the Tree (first monday night in December) to remember the true meaning of the season first.  I love Nativity sets and have to stop myself from buying more. Not many shops sell them so when they do I feel a need to buy and show support that YES! we want these sold in stores. Now I pick up a small and reasonably priced set to give to another. One year I gave one to single woman who had not a single decoration. She really loved the Nativity set.


Carolling
Oh How I wish our family could sing! {we could carry speakers around and just play music right?} Carolling is awesome. One year a bunch of young adults from church carolled outside my house. My elderly neighbour came out and said to me later how beautiful it was, that people just don't do things like that anymore. It is such a touching gesture. I'm going to have to figure out a way to make this happen {invite lots of awesome singing friends to sing with us so we can hide in the crowd }


Advent   see here here
This is still a big work in progress with small children and with a busy calendar but I try to celebrate Advent (the four sundays leading up to christmas) with our candle ring, a scripture and spiritual lesson and music. Including others in this would be very easy.


Personalized Christmas Ornaments   see  here  here   here here
Each year I like to attempt to make personalize ornaments. We've got a few now. Organize a day to do it with other mum's


Christmas Card Movie   see  here here here
I think we've made about 5 Christmas movies so far. Each year I look forward to coming up with a simple idea and turning it into a little Christmas Family Movie. They are really nice to look back on and the girls love to watch them.

Pinatas   see here  here
It isn't a party without a pinata right!? A pinata is instant fun and anyone would love to receive a Christmas Pinata. I'm thinking Christmas Tree shape this year. (or star or stocking shape - so many possibilities!)


Advent Calendars   see here  here  here  here
We have paper ones, cloth ones and make a disposable one each year. Love Advent Calendars Would be a perfect gift to make another family to gift in November (get the gift giving in early!) There are so many types - ones with lollies, ones with activities to do as a family, ones with scriptures.

Gingerbread Houses  see here  here  here
It's getting a little out of control now I have 3 kids at school, but each year we make gingerbread houses to share at school. If I can get organized enough I think making a gingerbread house to gift to another family would be a lovely idea. Dropping one off anonymously would be so fun.



What are your favourite traditions that could be turned into a service?


New traditions I haven't done before but I am going to make goals to achieve this year


See a performance of Handel's Messiah (booked the tickets!!)
Take the children to see a Christmas Play/Ballet
Do a Jesse Tree
Have a Street Party and invite everyone in the street to meet and greet
Have a yule log
Make an awesome advent calendar
Be better at sitting quietly and contemplating the season each night and holding nightly advent
Have my children practice Christmas Songs on their instruments so we can have a singalong



As of next week it will be 12 weeks till Christmas.
I know I easily have 12 things on my to do list.
One a week.
Time to get cracking!


What are your Christmas Traditions? Do share!



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Daisy Chain Moments



Had a lightbulb moment via another today


There is a large park we have to pass through on our way to school.

Often Miss N asks to stop. Most times I have to say no.
{We are late, too busy, on our way to another place, have to rush home, on bikes etc}

All too often I take us in the car and we bypass the opportunity to relish in our community


Today I deemed it was the only day this week with nowhere for me to be

We would walk!

On the way back I offered - would you like to stop at the park

A BIG YES and a big smile


We sat and played.

Then I noticed all the clover coming out

Each year we sit and make daisy chains out of clover - see here and here

I thought we could sit and make some.

Picking and Sitting and Joining flowers



 I notice a young man sitting on the swings nearby watching us.

I thought it a little odd but kept going about our business

A few minutes later he approaches and asks if he can take a polaroid photo of us
{he was shy and said its really hard to ask people permission to photograph them}

He is documenting people in Brisbane enjoying 'free' pursuits

He was so intrigued and admired that we were sitting making daisy chains in a public park

It was for a university assignment but he hopes to become a documentary photo journalist one day

I gave my consent and four very expensive polaroids were taken of us.

(Polaroid no longer make the film but gave their 'recipe' to another company that has started manufacturing it - however they can not manufacture it perfectly and the film has different results each time and is often badly exposed and only half works out - which adds to its creative look)

Had the most lovely chat and we parted ways with words of I hope you achieve your dreams.
I thanked him for literally making my day.

Tears welled up in my eyes on the way home

That young man touched my heart. He reminded me of perhaps the hundreds of moments I have missed in the rush of life. The thousands of times I have had to say no. That he saw some type of beauty in a few precious minutes of time spent with my child.


That indeed the best things in life are free.


*and today a day later I was at the park and the field of clover was gone.

Mowed over.

Precious moments are truly fleeting and must be caught!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Toogoom



As I sat waiting in the cool grey, when that golden glow hit me I was filled with warmth.
Watching a sunrise is almost a spiritual experience in my book. The quiet, the golden warmth that burns into you, the awe, the feeling of renewal, that anything is possible. Life is a gift.

My favourite quotes from the kids:
We love this place - is this our new house?
I love it here where I can say mum I'm going to the beach and you let me go do whatever I want
{to a glorious sunrise} Mum! Heaven is on! Heaven is on!

I can look at the gorgeous shells sitting on my mantle and remember the memories.



We've just returned from our first proper family holiday!

{sure we've camped, stayed with family/friends who live in cool locations etc}

But this was our first proper booked, all the amenties, 5 day stay, beach holiday.

It was wonderful.

Usually hotels are out of our budget {they want us to book 2 rooms}
We're too noisy, crazy to be in a small room and would annoy other guests I'm sure
For a few years beyond his control The Mr was having to change jobs just before the 1 year period to entitle holiday leave. Poor guy went about 5 years without holiday!

I was so happy to find reasonably priced {$140/night} WHOLE houses for holiday rental on stayz.com.au

Perfect solution for our family.

We rented a 4 bedroom house right on the beach at Toogoom {outside Hervey Bay}

Toogoom is a quiet beachside suburb with nothing but a few houses along the beach and one store. We basically had 5km stretch of beach to ourselves! Locals would walk their dogs morning and night and that was about it. I had never heard of the place before our booking.

It had shallow gentle water perfect for children
{ahem perfect for adults who want to laze and let their kids go at it without help }
Low Low Tides for exploring
Sand and nothing else in the clear water {for scaredy cats like me}
Pefect Sunset and Sunrise viewing {I have ALOT of photos!}

Now for Photo Overload :)

 

We swam and played on the beach each day before breakfast.
We had a fire on our beach with marshmallows and star viewing.
We fed turtles and sharks at this hokey aquarium
Walked each sunrise and sunset
Lazing on the hammock
We kayaked around and around

Only downside was green fluffy seaweed everywhere on the shore which a local told me only happens once a year, he said what a shame about this seaweed on your holiday.


 We stayed here at Cedar Beach Lodge
{think 70's beachhouse with lots of brown wood, lime green bathroom, cork floors, mission brown outside}We since found out that half the town is a holiday rental so I'm sure more fancier places could be found

House came with all amenties
kayak and canoe {kids LOVED that}
washer and dryer {came home with clean clothes instead of piles of dirty washing!}
Big Double Hammock
Lovely rainforesty garden
Out door dining

If you've made it this far some photos of the house :



We would love to do this again with family and friends and we can all have a house each!

I'm still on holiday high - I'm searching online for the next holiday!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Favourites :: Beach in Winter

I love the beach in winter.

Granted lucky I live in a place with a great climate, but the beach is just so lovely to me in Winter.

We've been at least once each month of winter, sometimes more than once.
We currently gearing up for an early spring beach holiday!

It's just so much nicer in my opinion

No need for suncream, no burning feet on sand requiring me to carry children, we can stay longer than one hour (we burn to a crisp longer than that), I can sit fully clothed watching the children - play, wade, swim (the brave crazy two), less people, I can laze in the sand reading a book, sifting sand between my fingers, the list goes on...

yes best to get in all our visits in as I'm terrible at going to the beach in actual summer.

Farwell my winter beach... I love you.

 
 
Summer Beach is on it's way!
 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fathers Day 2012 Musings...


The Mr is so hard to buy for.
{he's not into many manly pursuits - nix on sports stuff, fishing, car interests, building, clothes etc}

Poor guy has been recieving reincarnations of tie, socks, favourite chocolate and ginger beer for every birthday, christmas, fathers day for 11 years now.

I took the girls shopping with money for each of them to buy a small thing for daddy. They got distracted and started fooling around and/or shopping for things THEY want.

I was exasperated cause I also had NO IDEA what to get Daddy and begged them to just choose something! Cause behaviour is heading out the door and we better leave before they kick us out.

One daughter replied 'We dont know what to get daddy cause WE'RE GIRLS!!! It's impossible!'

 
 ***

Lucky our daddy loves copious amounts of ties and socks and ginger beer and homemade cards.


He's so easy to please.


Sometimes forced retail based holidays {think valentines, mothers day and fathers day} can seem a bit cheesy, annoying, sad {if you don't have that in your life}, and nothing like that portrayed in commercials.

But around Fathers Day I'm always a little grateful.

I often worry that my girls are mama's girls. I can justify thinking 'well they might prefer me as I am same sex parent', they prefer me cause I primarily look after all their needs as small children and with extended breastfeeding daddy didn't have to do much for them, don't all kids love their mother best?

I worry when they bypass their father to ask me something, come to me for comfort after hurting themselves, to feed them when they wake up, to put them to bed, to read their books, to soothe them when sick. Daddy is good for computer help. Climbing on the roof. Kiteflying. Bike fixing. Asking deep questions. A hug in the morning until the little one says 'Ipad Daddy?" There's nothing wrong with this differentiation but I want girls that will curl up and find deep connection and comfort with their father.

So I love Fathers Day.

To me a Fathers role with their daughters is one of the most important ever. Perhaps because I believe in a Father in Heaven but a good father on earth just makes that connection between the two so even easier. A Father is strong, level headed, full of guidance, will always have your back, provides for you in all ways. A quiet force in the background of your life never wavering.

So I love my kids on Fathers Day


I loved their excitement to give their presents.
To climb into bed with him.
To make him breakfast.
To steal his ginger beer and chocolates {kids know their parents are sharers }


Fathers can sometimes be harder to get closer to then mothers.

But when you do its such a strong connection that makes my heart soar.



and the coolest daddies wear homemade paper ties and love cheap plastic watches
 
 
and look gorgeous in portraits drawn during church {picture by Miss G}

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

EKKA 2012



I think for the first time I didn't heave a great sigh and declare 'I am never doing this AGAIN!'

Really kids do grow up and become better behaved! Hallelujah!

{until you run out of money that is... and they still have plenty of rides they want to try!}

Thanks to my mum who accompanied me {and gets me free entry} as once again The MR was out of town working. {hmmm I see a pattern here ;}

I constantly remind the kids that for us a trip to the Ekka is a group effort. It is an expensive outing, but thanks to their money boxes, parents, grandparents and great grandparents we can fund most of the things they want. It's always a little lesson in seeing how far your money goes {not far}.

Luckily the Ekka is nicely placed between Birthdays, Easter, More birthdays and Christmas. We seem to have a nice spacing of things to look forward to every two months or so in this house. Ekka is perfect timing to give us a pep, something to look forward to during winter and get us looking forward to whats coming next in our calendar. Mid year Fun.

It's a long day 9am-9pm.

Full of all the ekka traditions. We tick all the important things off our list. Rides, Fairy Floss, Baby Animals, Dagwood Dogs, Showbags, Strawberry Sundae Cones, Fireworks, Children falling asleep during fireworks and a long tired walk back to the car with hands brim full of treasures.

 
 

Previous Ekka Tales here and here

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