Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year

As hit the final day of this year, of the amazing 2012  , I am left to ponder. To reflect and to cherish.
Ponder all the things I would change , given a time machine. Reflect on the amazing times, lots shared with loved ones and cherish. Cherish these memories as our treasures for the rest of our lives.
Pretty special really.

This year has bought with it many challenges and personal issues for me.
Situations that I placed myself in that I regret. And although my husband has always told me to not live with regret. I find that very hard advice to  use sometimes.

Writing has always been a love of mine, ever since a was a kid. I used to love writing books and letters and often pretend to be a library teacher at home. Placing all of my own books in my room in alphabetical order, and I wasn't very old either!
I have really really enjoyed writing this blog. Its been good for the soul, and often makes me think clearer and feel better after I have debriefed.
But this blog has also proved that not all things are read as I write them. Not all things are interpreted as I meant them. I guess that is the joy and sorrow that comes with a written word.
I feel so grateful and blessed that I have 4 amazingly beautiful children. A gift that not everyone is lucky enough to receive and I count my blessings each and every day. I feel so lucky to be able to be at home with them, to be able to love and nurture them all day as a stay at home Mum, and I can not think of a more rewarding or joyful job in the world.

I have recently started to take some time out for myself. Something that I have always struggled with , but am thoroughly enjoying now. I am playing sport again, scrap booking and taking opportunities to duck to the shops 'childfree' more than I have during the last 5 years, just of late.
I am never going to be a person that can go to something during the day, guilt free, but I have accepted that. Sometimes I wish I did, or could, but I am happy with what I have been achieving without the kids. It is quite liberating!

As we head into a New Year, I want to wipe the slate clean. Free myself from any baggage and negativity as we start a new year over.
As far as New Years Resolutions go, I would love to catch up on our family scrapbooks, create some time each week/fortnight to keep up to date or finish any existing projects that I hadn't managed to with the children around.
I would love to continue to play team sports, its hard yakka to get out the door but its all made worth it with the fun that I am having .
I would love some more (we only had 2 this year) nights out with just my husband, to go to a quiet movie, grab a pizza and beer at a cafe or just go for an after dinner and peak hour coffee.
But really, above all else, I just would love a happy and positive year. A year of love and laughter. A year of friendship and family. A year of telling and showing the people I care for, just how much I appreciate them.
A year for random acts of kindness, for forgiveness and for self growth.
What more could a person want , if not to be happy and healthy. A factor of life that unfortunately , not all people are lucky enough to have x

So, as we head into the year 2013, may you cherish your loved ones, make the most of every opportunity and have a happy and safe New Year!
I am so looking forward to a year of blogging, of spreading the love through the web and sharing the journey with you.

Whatever you may be doing tonight, stay safe xo
Much love

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Twas the night before Christmas ......

Our Christmas Eve was magical. After years and years of working right up to the death knock of Christmas and hours and hours through the season, I am relishing in fact that I can be with my children at this special time and experience everything with them.

Our day started with the kids finding their Elf , Alfie, and reading his note etc as explained in this post HERE. Thats when the excitement started brewing!!

The kids went to their grandparents for a few hours (as they are going away and won't see them for a week or so) and this gave me time to clean the house (general vac, mop, dust, bathrooms etc) all the baking and cooking I needed to do for Christmas Day and also the last minute wrapping and organising.
I also set up a special Christmas Eve dinner for our family. This is the first year we have had a special little dinner, with just us,as we are always with extended family but we really enjoyed it and so did the kids , so it may just become a family tradition.

No Christmas dinner is complete without a pavlova , right?

Lacey certainly enjoyed herself!!

Alfie spent his last night with us before flying away on Father Christmas' sleigh, at the dinner table , climbing the tree!

Then came the customary kiddy photo.
Pffft as if!

So sweet, even though Angus wasn't playing the game!

Time to put out the reindeer food and Father Christmas' snacks!

And because we don't have a chimney, he needs a key to get in!

Ahhhh all nestled all safe and warm in their beds. The stockings were laid, the presents were wrapped and Father Christmas visited our house.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Homemade Christmas Goodies

As I do every year, I baked and made some goodies to pop in bags and give away as gifts to the people that I wanted to say 'Merry Christmas' to but not actually buy a gift for.
Not only that , but I think that a little home made gift is better than anything that you can buy in a shop. It was made with love, thought about with care and packaged with joy.

After my husband bought me a Thermomix a few months ago, I have been dieing to make some jam, and thought of no better reason.
So a batch of Strawberry, Apple and vanilla jam was created and bundled up in cute jars with fabric and ribbon. Totally delicious and I hope people are enjoying them!

I baked a few batched of sweets and packaged them up for our daycare lady and ironing lady (women worth their weight in gold, and even though our twins are only in care a few hours a week, and we only get our ironing done once a fortnight, they make my life so so much easier than it could be!)

Smaller versions were packaged up in these super cute Kikki K bags and tags for close girlfriends/godparents and neighbours.

The sweets included;
Top deck rocky road
Gingerbread  biscuits
Chocolate cherry, hazelnut slice
Rum balls
Oreo Puddings

I also made some white Christmas (and it wouldn't fit in the bag)
and a mango fruit cake for a few back up gifts for those unexpected visitors that you feel the need to gift to.

Each package was tied with some cute string and popped inside the bag.

All traditional, simple yet effective (and YUMMY) baking but its sure to bring joy to those I care for.

Do you bake special gifts? A traditional item every year?

Friday, December 28, 2012

The lead up

In the last week leading up to Christmas Day, we crammed a fair few activities in to fill up our days (and nights) and enhance the joy and spirit. Here is a SMALL snippet;

As a child, every year before Christmas, my big cousins, my sister and I would spend an afternoon making rum balls together. Our parents would supply the ingredients, some 2L bottles of Cool drink and Salt and Vinegar chips and we were in seventh heaven!! And they got to have a tidy supply of Rum Balls!! Alcohol free of course!
So this year I thought we could start the tradition again, only with our children.
So a morning (as its better for young kiddos like ours) was spent laughing and having fun making little balls of Christmas spirit.


Stella and I went on a Mummy, daughter date to the carols and my Mum came too! 3 generations of girls , singing sweet carols and spending some quality time together.

No carols are complete without fireworks , right?! haha not quite.

Some more Christmas Crafting was done. This time we created Christmas trees out of paper plates. The kids painted them one afternoon (when it was hot and they were playing outside and had water play too!) then the decorating was done a few days later.

Some Christmas stickers, glitter, sequins and confetti shapes certainly made for pretty trees!!

Once completed and dry, I stapled them to some ribbon and created a cute Christmas bunting for the reading corner in the toy room. Extra trees were given as gifts to the Grandparents on Christmas Day.

We went on a family Christmas light tour on a bus (Poppy was driver). It was such a brilliant night. Everyone sang carols, the kids giggled and had fun. That's how childhood memories are made.


As you can see, we have kept busy and certainly created quite the build up to Christmas Day. Our kids were beyond excited and it was just so magical to witness.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas

Firstly, Merry Christmas to you all and your gorgeous families!!
I hope you have had a wonderful few days and thoroughly enjoyed this festive season with your loved ones.

To say that I LOVE Christmas is an absolute understatement. I love everything about it, but what I love most would be seeing the joy on our children's faces. Throughout every step of the way, all of the preparations and traditions and for every activity and step that we took, they smiled their little hearts out.
Such sweet, innocent joy.

We had a wonderful day, very busy yet totally enjoyable. The kids were swooned over at my husbands family for breakfast then played and swam their little hearts out at my parents for lunch and well well into the afternoon.

The weather was very warm and muggy and lots of swimming was done, nothing says a good West Australian Christmas like a heat wave!!

EVERYONE was totally spoilt, totally, and definitely don't need to eat much for the next week (or month).

Over the next few days I will be bringing you some posts on our final preparations for Christmas. Lots of things were done yet not much time for blogging was made.

Stay tuned for more Christmas posts .x

Merry Christmas to one and all xo

Monday, December 24, 2012

An Elf Goodbye

Unfortunately , for everyone in our home, today is the last day we have Alfie to share the festivities with.
Its amazing how one little Elf and his antics have brought so much joy and laughter to our Christmas Preparation. Hubby and I have enjoyed finding new things for him to do and new mischief for him to create, and the kids have had a ball searching for him each morning and absorbing the magic of it all.

Goodbyes are never easy, especially when you are 2 and 4 years , so I knew we had to make it as easy and smooth as possible.

So in our home, Alfie our Elf, will be catching a lift to the North Pole with Father Christmas tonight, when he visits our home. As a final goodbye, thank you and as an explanation, last night we set Alfie up on the coffee table near the Christmas tree.

He had a letter , and a bag of goodies.
The letter (that I made myself but can make it available for those who wish to use it, just email me and I'll send it through)  thanks the kids for having him stay, lets them know that they have been good boys and girls and also that he has left a set of pyjamas for tonight as a token of his appreciation.
We have given the kids a set of PJ's on Christmas Eve , ever since we have been parents, but this seems like the way to go from now on.

They were all so excited to open the bag with their pyjamas and also to see they had received a letter from Alfie.

Hopefully, if they are good, he can return next year too!!

I'll be back later today with some Christmas crafts for the kiddos but for now, have you planned your Elf's exit ?? What is happening at your home?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Flash Cards

After quite a few messages from readers about the flash cards that we use (they have been pictured in past posts like HERE) I thought I would try and cover all bases with a details post on the flashcards that I have made up for our children, mostly Stella, using free printables.

Stella has just completed Kindergarten, which in Western Australia , is a 4-5 year old class, 2.5 - 3 full days a week ( Stella went 3 days ,and that was more than enough!!). Next year she will go to Pre Primary, which is 5 days a week (booooo) , then the following year go into Year 1 (eeek!!) . Our Kindy and Pre Primary is on school premises and they use the school library etc.

Since the beginning of the year when Stella started to learn to read and write at school, she has had such an eagerness to learn. Its amazing and I really wanted to harness it. Definitely not push, or force her to do anything she didn't want to, but when she asked for a pencil and paper and "Mummy ,how do I write ....." I wanted to have tools on hand to help out the situation.

So that is where Flash Cards help. There are so many out there in the cyber world, mostly free printable and all it takes is a bit of printing and laminating (if you so wish.)
I am also very lucky to have some gorgeous and very clever friends and fellow Mums , who share my passion for nurturing our children and wanting to help them in the same way. These ladies share their links and finds , have awesome ideas and are a constant source of inspiration for me. Its so refreshing and I feel very blessed.
Right, now down to the important details. Here are the flash cards and tools we are currently using;

Firstly, one of the said gorgeous friends discovered this cool site where you can copy and past different letters and create your own worksheets or flashcards. So I set about to making Stella a set that I thought she may use frequently. We store them in a re purposed plastic zip up case, and they are easily accessible,  

The cards I made for Stella are Months of the Year, days of the week and family members names.
You just copy the letter, paste it into a word document and create the words you wish.

And then I added in a few commonly used words, especially for this time of year, like 'To' and 'From' etc.
I love how the letters have arrows to indicate where to start writing and that you are able to create whatever words you want/need. You can find this program HERE

These next cards are more for Max and Lacey and of course Angus in the very near future when he is learning his animals and the sounds they make etc. I like how simple the pictures are and they are great for picture/animal to word recognition. Plus the compact size is great for travel and storage , and I just backed each card with some nice card stock before laminating.

You can find the Animal flash cards HERE

These gorgeous Ladybug counting cards are cute as and are available in different styles from HERE

Kerina from Living on A Latte has also made a gorgeous Counting book, available HERE. Its on my "to Print" list actually!

These Alphabet flash cards were fantastic when Stella was writing out her Christmas cards to her school friends. Especially with tricky letters like M and N.

You can find them HERE
I also backed these with pretty card stock, makes them a little more interesting.

And we have started on Sight words at home as well. I found this printable HERE but there are hundreds on the net, just google Sight words and you will find out. I love that when cards are laminated, punched and put on a ring , that you can take them off and on as you please. We are about to take a few each week, place them on the fridge , toilet door etc , until Stella is familiar with them , then move on to new ones.

Some basic shape flashcards, are great when kids are learning how to draw. For instance, at the moment Stella is progressing from just a circle with legs and a head etc for a person , to wanting to draw clothing. These shapes make it easier for her, like the triangle for a dress, the rectangle for a shirt etc.
Available from HERE

As an addition to the Flash cards, I also picked up a set of these cards whilst in the big smoke and at a Big W.  They are fantastic at practising writing, and also come as a number set, complete with a dry erase marker too!!

All of the cards and tools are kept in a small basket on a bookcase in our living area. Accessible and convenient is the key. In the new year, when thing settle down a bit , I am going to set up a fabulous Writing Workshop like Bianca from a little delightful did HERE. Love this idea!!

Missing from this post is also another Bianca idea (the clever lady is full of them!) and that is her Colour Cards. To be honest, ours have been used and used and are a little worse for wear and need to be replaced, but you can find them HERE.

We have been using this Alphabet Poster as a name reference etc, and I love the pictures , too cute. You can find it HERE

This is a simple printing practice sheet that I got from Stella's teacher and laminated. She can use a whiteboard marker on it and we can wipe off and do it again. I am sure if you asked your childs teacher for something similar they would oblige.

We have a little collection of work mats that Stella often uses and works from. Any resource is a good one in my opinion.

And finally, these Dry Erase books by Crayola (similar to the cards) are nice and simple and of course, reusable. There are different types you can get and I found this in Target , but I am sure any good department store would stock them .
Maybe something to add to the Stocking for Christmas?

Hmm I think that is it for now, as I said, there are so many wonderful and FREE resources available, its just a matter of finding the one to suit you and your child and the activities you wish to do with them.
I hope this has helped you a bit, and that your printer and laminater isn't going to hate me too much !!
Enjoy .