Monday, November 28, 2011

what we'll be doing in december

Firstly, before I start the idea behind this is to enjoy my children's excitement of Christmas and if we do something little each day we'll be ready come the 25th so avoiding the mad rush to get everything done (which I'm an expert at). Secondly, I plan on having an unsealed envelope with an advent activity in it. This way depending on how we are feeling and the weather we can change things around. As I said here I'm combining an activities advent with a Christmas Book Advent so there'll also be a separately wrapped Christmas book (Christmas Advent book list to come).

Below is the best advent list I found from (in date order):

Deck the halls! (decorate tree, etc)
Take photos for Christmas cards
Buy a new Christmas album and listen to it
Make the house smell like Christmas (we'll just get a real tree for this)
Make Christmas Cards
Read a Christmas Story Book
Wrap Christmas Gifts
Make a new Christmas Decoration
Color a Christmas picture
Build a snowman or hang up paper snowflakes
Make hot chocolate and stir with candy canes
Make a treat and take it to a friend
Watch a christmas movie and eat popcorn
Go out for a Christmas treat
Do something nice for someone
Drive around and look for Christmas lights
Go visit Santa Clause
Do service for someone in need
Have a campout in front of the Christmas tree
Call grandma and grandpa and sing a Christmas song
Take gifts to teachers and friends
Read a story or watch a movie about the birth of Baby Jesus
Make cookies and write letters for Santa Clause
Read "The Night Before Christmas"

Not bad. Here are a few of my ideas:

Ornaments/Craft: *
Make handmade ornaments from salt flour like above for Grandparents using this recipe
Make a glass ornament hand print
Make a driftwood christmas tree like above
Make wrapping paper like this from Dee. Who is SO clever. 
* Personally I'd like to make almost all of the ornaments I've posted about lately see here and here

Take a trip to see the Christmas windows. (So glad that Ballentines is open in Christchurch CBD again).
Take a trip to the beach for driftwood Christmas tree craft
Take a trip to buy a present, wrap it and donate to children with cancer in hospital
Trip to Santa Parade (on 4th Dec)
Trip to the food bank to donate some food

Make Christmas Candy Tree Chocolate Brownies. Yum. 
Make Gingerbread men

Write a letter to those passed or visit graves (Oma)
Watch a movie (Maybe How the Gritch Stole Christmas)
On 5th December we'll celebrate St Nicholas (Dutch Christmas more about this here) by going to the Dutch Cafe and eating Chocolate letters, Pepernoten and coffee.  
Pack for the car trip to Grandparents
Have friends around for Christmas afternoon tea (serve them Christmas Chocolate Brownies)

I think that's more than enough. It is called the silly season after all.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

the countdown is on

I remember once having a cardboard advent calendar that you just tore the date off. My Nana sent it and I thought it was very cool. But really the sky is the limit to what you can do with this idea. Celebrate each day of December by lighting a candle, eating a sweet, getting a trinket, doing Christmas activities (volunteering, making ornaments, singing), hanging an ornament on the tree, or reading a Christmas book each evening. I've decided to wrap up 24 Christmas books and envelopes and each day we'll read a new book and do the activity in the envelope. I'll save the activities and a list of great/classic Christmas books I've found for another day (post). 

In the mean time I found these on the interweb. 

 Top Left:
Top Right: 
Middle Left:
Middle Right:
Bottom Left:
Bottom Right:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a green life family christmas traditions

image from                                        image from

At kindy this week the children started practising Christmas songs for the Christmas concert so today we decorated the lounge with ribbons for Christmas. So just a little excited. I imagine my excitement over the last few years' Christmas is going to be surpassed by Miss I'm nearly 5. Particularly as we are talking about going to Christmas in the Park this weekend. 

While my family have Christmas traditions: church, ham, appletiser, scorched almonds, presents after breakfast, one person chooses a gift for the next then everybody watches person open their present then they choose a present for the next, blah, blah. (Yes present opening takes a long time). And my own little family will follow these too. Including the handwritten cards from Santa (that began to look more and more like my Mum's). However I'm serious about building the following NEW traditions into our family culture too. Mostly after reading "Growing Great Girls" by Ian and Mary Grant in which they explain how traditions helps nurture feelings of connectedness and belonging. 
  • christmas stockings (with an orange, why you ask see here).
  • new PJ's the night before with a photo under the tree.
  • a christmas ornament for each child that represents something they've loved or a way of acting throughout the year. Take a photo of them with their ornament under the tree. When the child leaves home they take a little collection with them. 
  • Santa gifts a snow ornament alternately to children to also build a collection.
  • make a Christmas ornament from the trunk of the Chirstmas tree each year.
  • an advent calendar of christmas books, ornament making and activities for each December day before Christmas (post to come).
  • make presents with the children for relatives and friends.
  • presents from Mama and Papa and/or Santa include something they want, need, wear and read. I was also thinking about play.  

image from

I'll let you know how I get on organising all this. 
Do you have any traditions I should add?

Monday, November 21, 2011

a little african inspiration

images: via:

painting projects - part one - family artists

Our landlords left lots of white paint in our shed which I've used before but I'd been longing for some colour and have had ideas to repaint lots of things around the house that have just been in storage as they weren't appealing to me in their current colour/state. So this is the first of many reveals of all the painting projects that are still works-in-progress.

Remember these frames from this eco-shopping expedition well they are what inspired me to get my A into G. Resene where having a half price test pot sale. So a good excuse to finally sit down and work out what colours I wanted. Procrastination should be my middle name. I also had my Nana's $20 birthday money in my wallet.  

I was also inspired by Holly Made who had a similar idea and involved her child in the process, check it out here. So I decided it wouldn't be perfect but who cares about that right. We did x2 coats in 2 days. Sploshing paint around as we didn't pay for it. Then I was so excited I did the final coat one sunny evening. This is note worthy as I am normally shattered in the evening and do nothing. Not even watch telly. So what am I going to do with them now. 

I'd seen this quote "Every child is an Artist" by Pablo Picasso and wanted to celebrate some of the artwork that comes home from kindy. almost. every. single. day. 

I just used wooden pegs with blu tack under them so I can move the pegs around depending on the piece of art. I have been staring at the art ever since we put it up. So I think it's working. The trick will be to constant change the art so the kids can enjoy them before they are put in a box which seems sad. 

And the other frame ... stay tuned folks.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

my new old bike

My husband was undecided about what to do with his late mums bike (read going to take it to the dump). I'm so glad I convinced him to spend money we didn't really have to get a friend to 'upcycle' it (fix it up). I was so excited when he brought it around a few weekends ago I was actually jumping up and down (after he left). I am going to treasure it having come with her all the way from the Netherlands and being in pretty good condition. The best bit is its easy and smooth to ride. Much more enjoyable than my mountain bike. It remind's me of my MIL, my hubbies sister (we have hers too!), being married to a dutch man, and our 10 months living in The Netherlands (mostly Amsterdam memories). Cool eh?

To be truly awesome now all it needs is a basket.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I miss her

I want to write about my late Mother-in-Law, her creativeness and life ...she'd think I'm being SO over the top but quietly like it I think. 

My dutch Mother-in-Law died in January this year from secondary breast cancer. She was extremely creative and collected craft material, patterns and equipment all her life. I have been an extremely lucky girl and inherited it all. Including her sewing machine.  Boxes and boxes of it. She had boxes of just sewing patterns. Unfortunately we can't keep everything WE horde, along with all her things, so we have donated some of the dutch language things to the dutch club. 

I organised her casket flowers which included knitting needles, wool, buttons and cotton reels along with her favourite colour blue, orange (she was Dutch after all) and lots of green ferns from NZ.  

These are her scissors in a recent sewing adventure.

A month or so ago, I felt compelled to pen a little message to her son (my husband's twin who I have made a pact with myself to keep in touch with as he's overseas and now has no mum OR dad). I feel I wish to share it here as it relates to a few things going on in my head. 

I miss driving down Papanui Road to her house on a Saturday afternoon to go and drink her fizzy (we never have fizzy) and have her play with the kids and have a chat about nothing in particular. I do miss that. A lot. 

I miss her coming here and having a coffee with me. 

I miss asking her how to sew something. 

I miss that she never commented on how we were parenting. 

I miss not going and doing something to tidy up her place. 

I miss her not playing with the kids. Did I say that already.

... she made life better for me. 
The last bit is the thing that since she has passed I've come to realise more and more. She made life better for ME. So let this be a reminder to tell those in your life when they make life better for YOU

Pax Vorbis is latin for peace to you. We think she made this embroidery- it is beautiful. Peace be with you Gordina I shall think of you lots as I make things with your stash. You knew I wouldn't throw it away didn't you?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

random thought

I'm one of those people who thinks things have to be perfect and exactly how you imagine they should be before you do them. It's a very annoying trait and I'm trying to kick it. So for at least 6 months I'd wanted to decorate tin can telephones with washi tape (decorative tape) to play with my children. BUT I just haven't had money for necessities let alone something seemingly frivolous as the washi tape to make them. Here's a list of those frivolous things.

For some reason today I looked at my 2 sick children and thought stuff it how long is it going to take for me to walk out to the garage, grab the hammer and something to make a hole, I had the tins already and a pretty good idea were the string was. So within about 5 minutes we'd made them.

Ta Da:

Plain Jane tin cans with a hole and string. Master 2 then played with the hammer while Miss 4 and I talked to each other on the "phone". Guess what the first thing Miss 4 said to me was. 

"Mum I love you". 
I said "I love you too".
Miss 4 then said "I love it when you play with me". 

Let this be the lesson:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

beginnings and endings with lifetimes in between

I thought I'd do a series of posts about the books I've discovered about death for children. What I found was that they all celebrate LIFE! 
Firstly, we have been reading 'Beginnings and Endings with LIFETIMES in between' by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen for some time as it was one of the books I'd had in my 'library' from when I was doing book parties (like tuperware). I like reading and looking at illustrations you see. 
We started reading this last year when our 2 goldfish died after the September earthquake as the tank became yucky (I'd like to think that was why they died- not that we over fed them!). I think every household should have this. Teaching children about loss and grief is a lifelong lesson and factual books like this are a sensitive and good stare. From as early as about 2 and a half years children can start to learn that all things have an ending. It is beautifully illustrated and a great way to introduce the topic of mortality to a young child. 

A quote:"All around us, everywhere, beginnings and endings are going on all the time. With living in between".  
It is a special book and has many learning points:
  1. Everything has a lifetime. How long it lives depends on what it is and what happens while it is living. 
  2. Sometimes living things become ill or hurt. Mostly, they get better but sometimes they die. 
  3. "It may be sad but it is the way of all things. Plants, people, birds, fish, trees, animals and even the tiniest insect." 
You won't regret buying this book. Here are some websites to buy it from cheaper than the shops. 
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