Archive for December, 2011

Do Not Be Afraid – Christmas 2011

December 15, 2011

 

But the Angel said, “Do not be afraid.”

Have you noticed how this is a recurring message?  Of course, having an angel suddenly appear in front of you is probably very frightening, but I think there is more to it than that.

Do not be afraid.

I think we all have a lot of fears.  I think we are insecure.  I think that this world can be a scary place.  I know I do and I am and it is for me.

Do not be afraid.

What is it that you are afraid of right now, this Christmas?  What are the angels telling you not to fear?

I know of what I am afraidI am afraid of being Bandicoot’s mother.  I am afraid that Little Princess will grow up to be like Bandicoot.  I am afraid that Possum is growing up too fast.

Do not be afraid.

I am afraid of going to stay with my in-laws for Christmas.  I am not afraid of my parents-in-law.  They love me and I love them, even if it is often hard work, if sometimes we seem like strange creatures to each other and rub each other the wrong way.

I am afraid of exposing Bandicoot to people who do not love him as much as we do, who cannot accept his uniqueness as we do.  I am afraid of the judgement that I will (and I do) receive as a parent to such a spirited child.

Poor Bandicoot.  We call him our Wild Child.  That is an affectionate term for the turmoil we often feel.  As you have heard before, he suffers from Can’t-Sit-Still, from My-Body-Seems-To-Be-Bigger-and-Stronger-Than-I-Realised, from BUT-THIS-IS-MY-QUIET-VOICE, from Oh-Were-You-Talking-To-Me?-I-Was-Busy-Doing-This-Thing-That-Now-Seems-To-Have-Made-You-Angry, from Desperate-Need-For-All-Your-Attention-All-The-Time

He is also very, very loving.

He is the kind of kid who would thrive as an only child.  If I could give him the attention he craves, he would just about always be well behaved.  At least well enough behaved that I would be able to visit people occasionally.

But he’s not.  He is sandwiched between two other kids, close in age.

And the result is a nightmare.  Disobedience, yelling, kids crying, Mummy in tears…

But now we have to take it out of the house.  Out of our safe and private space.  And not just out in public where no-one knows us.  We have to take it to functions that involve lots of people, excitement, party food, tiredness.  We have to be around people not used to such live-wires (or at least, not used to them anymore!)  We need to spend extended periods of time with people who are very uncomfortable around our kids (it is sad but true that many of our siblings are in this category). And I am afraid.

In short, we need to EXPOSE our family’s dirty little secret… we are not perfect. 

Do not be afraid.

We love, we cry, we muddle, we ARE.  And we need to be accepted by those close to us as we are, not judged, not lectured and PLEASE, do NOT take it upon yourself to SMACK our Bandicoot.

I am very frightened.

Do not be afraid.

Can you accept this gift of peace this Christmas?

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Second Week of Advent 2011 – Saturday

December 10, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

Allsorts of good things amongst the chaos today, and isn’t that just what real life is all about?

The kids went with Daddy to the Hardware Shop today.  When they got there they discovered a craft workshop and they came home with these:

Aren’t they great?

Here is how you would make them, if you would like to give it a whirl.

You need a polystyrene cone for the tree.  It is covered in red or green contact. (Or painted.)

Wrap double-sided tape around the tree like tinsel.

Stick wrapped lollies onto the tape as decorations.  Add glitter or other embellishments if you would like.

Stick a toothpick into a polystyrene star.  Paint the star with glue and cover with glitter.  Stick the other end of the star into top of the tree.

Be sure to bring it home and proudly show it to Mummy.

I am linking this idea to:    image

 

Remember our lovely candy cane plants?  Well these have resulted in much munching of candy canes.  It also resulted in one almost complete one sitting on DH’s bedside table (NOT left there by DH, I might add.) 

This morning Little Princess had popped by for (yet another) feed from Mummy (I am so glad that I have finally mastered breastfeeding lying down!).  After her snack, she sat up and something caught her eye.  I figured that it was the trains, also on the bedside table (also not left there by DH).  No, that wasn’t it.  She had such a sparkle in her eye.  It was the candy cane!

Ah well, I thought.  An 11 month old won’t like peppermint so let her have a lick.

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Yup, it’s true.  This 11 month old didn’t like the candy cane – she LOVED it!  She ate the entire thing and enjoyed every last bit.

(Gosh, she is so cute at the moment.)

 

And as for the Countdown to Christmas box… well, this didn’t actually make it into the box, because I slipped it to the kids:

I had intended to set it up on a straight track on our front window sill, sitting the tracks on some wadding so that they looked like they were in the snow.  However, Bandicoot was setting up a train track this morning and just begging for anyone to play with him (to no avail) so I popped these trains on the tracks.

Fair to say, “Winner”.

Tonight we had planned to go Carols in the Park.  I just really wasn’t up to it.  I didn’t fancy trying to manage three kids on a picnic rug, on wet ground.  We usually have a lovely time when we are there, but I just couldn’t cope with the logistics of it.  It isn’t helped that the really local one (the one we can walk to) isn’t on this year, so we were going to have to go to the much bigger one in the next suburb.  (Actually the next-next suburb.)

Fortunately, we hadn’t told the kids about it.

Instead we had our planned dinner at home.  The marinated chicken drumsticks were such a hit with the kids that they have asked if I will please make them again.  (I marinated them in Coca Cola, garlic and ginger for about three days.)  Of course, DH and I are still not that keen on them – too fatty for us – but I bet I can work something for them again.

 

We also decided to do a family movie night.  This is something that I have heard of many families doing, but have never been able to convince mine to try.  Oh we had a lovely time!

I restocked the box while the kids were in the bath:

IMG_2145 Something for everyone!

We watched Red Boots for Christmas first.  We all enjoyed that one.  Possum kept saying, “That was a really nice show”.  (Here is a link to the “Red Boots” website.)

Little Shepherd was good, but it was a little too forced for my liking.  I guess that it had to be to fit all the story into the time frame and to make it accessible to the younger audience.  (I do, however, want to grow-up to be like Joel’s grandfather.)

At the end, we started to watch the Dora Christmas Carol (again), but the kids got too tired, so we cut our losses and plonked them into bed.

 

I wonder if DH and I will have time to curl up on the lounge and watch something over a cuppa (and perhaps a piece of stollen) now?

 

Things I know Friday – er, Saturday (9/10th December Edition)

December 10, 2011

Linking up with Shae over at Yay for Home!

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Aah, so it is the middle of Advent and time for a Things I Know session.  I am guessing that this might have a particular theme to it.

 

Things I know today:

I know that I am exhausted.  My body clock is a mess – up half the night, falling asleep when I sit down, slipping into a coma when I breasfteed (well, not quite, but definitely a stupor.)

I know that even though I am trying hard to ignore it, and to embrace the peace of the season, I have panic going on deep, down there.

I know I am SICK of the shops.  That has never happened before.  In previous years I have enjoyed going to the shops for a coffee or a wander just to soak up the atmosphere even after I have finished my shopping.  This year I don’t even want to go back to buy milk.  Admittedly, in previous years I have not had three preschoolers in tow.

I know that I am worried about Christmas.  We are travelling interstate to spend Christmas with my in-laws.  We will be away for four weeks in total.  I am in such a state trying to work out what we need and get it ready.  I am also quite concerned about my wild boys in their grandparents’ house and in their aunty’s house (her wild boys are a bit bigger these days.)  I know that I will be much better when I sit in the car on the 22nd of December.

I also know that I am a bit of a grumpy old troll at the moment.  Secretly, I am so glad that Possum is giving up gymnastics for a term.  Next week is his last session.  (And I am also glad that his favourite coach is leaving, because it means we can change clubs to one that is more accessible.)  I am also glad that our other regular activities are winding down.  I am even glad that it rained earlier so that I can can the idea of us going to Carols by Candlelight tonight.  (Oh no!  A humbug, too!)

I know that this last year has been really hard.  It has probably been one of the hardest of my life.  Three littles is no walk in the park.  The daily struggle to do anything – the amount of time it takes getting people into a car for example (15 minutes, assuming they are co-operating) – it has been very taxing.  And my back hurts too much from struggling with seatbelts.  Toilet training, new baby, school transition, illnesses, just to name a few of that bonus activities.

I also know that I am so glad that I got to have them all at home together for a year.  They are great friends, even if they fight!

I know that our current lifestyle cannot continue.  With all that has been going on, we have been running largely on survival mode for a long time.  I know we can’t keep up like that.  The family is running low on all the things that make life happy and good.  Next year I am hoping to add more homemaking back into my agenda.  It is a long way to go before we are featured in a coffee table magazine, but life running a little more smoothly will be nice.  (Hopefully I will have a little more energy with Possum at Big School, *sniff*, Bandicoot at Kindy, *sniff*, and Little Princess having turned 1, *sniff*.)

 

I also know that I need DH to help me find the Christmas CDs.  (Hello, Sweetie!  *waves*  I know you are out there!!)

And given the oozey swamp of thoughts in my head right now, well that’s a lot of stuff to know!

 

Second Week of Advent 2011 – Friday

December 9, 2011

Possum is 5 years and 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years and 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

 

And they grew some more…

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Today was largely taken up with other events, but you can’t expect a kid to start school without some sustenance, can you?

I was really touched.  I was in the shower this morning and Bandicoot came running in waving two of the large candy canes. 

“Look, look, Mumma!  They grew big ones!  Here’s one for me and one for you!” 

Say what you do about that boy (and we DO), but he loves his Mumma.

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I decided on a treat for Bandicoot this afternoon.  I thought that after his first (half) day at school, he might need some snuggle time with me, a little bit of extra loving.  Remember Polar Express?  Well he keeps asking for the train movie. (Did I mention how much he loves trains?  Second only to sharks.  And maybe his Mumma.)  I mentioned the movie to Possum, and, cool dude that he is now that he is so grown-up, he declared that he didn’t like the movie that much.  (After we bought it, you notice.  Grrr.)

So when Bandicoot came home at lunch time, he got to open the Countdown to Christmas Box and what did he find?

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And what did we do, Bandicoot, Little Princess and I?  We snuggled on the lounge and watched it.  We had a very enjoyable time.

Bandicoot Starts School

December 9, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

 

Bandicoot will be starting Kindy (preschool) next year.  Just as Possum leaves, Bandicoot will start.  The director of the Kindy has given us a couple of half days this year so that he can get a little used to it.

Today was his first day *sniff*

Here are some of the shots:

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Here are my three cheeky monkeys supporting each other (and their parents!) through another milestone.

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The compulsory “Okay, we’re off now” shots.  I remember posing for these kind of photos when I was a child, too.  (Today was also a school day for Possum, so they went along together).

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And with the school sign.  Poor little Bandicoot is looking a little nervous in that last one, isn’t he?

But what a brave boy he was!  No tears at all.  Hardly any fuss when we dropped him off.  He said he didn’t want to go, but only once or twice.  When I picked him up, he looked a little sad until he saw me, but he told me he had had a good time.  It took months before Possum reached that stage!

We will see how he goes when Possum isn’t there, ‘though.

 

 

And just for old times sake, this was January 2010…

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Another Christmas Give-away that I have Found

December 8, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Possum is 11 months

imageAbby over at Little Learning Lovies has a wonderful idea for the lead up to Christmas.  In their family, instead of playing music in the car during this period, all the Carols and songs are played inside the house.  In the car they play Christmas stories.  Isn’t that a wonderful idea?

And, just when you were already feeling warm and cozy and hot-chocolatey inside, she has written an entry all about The Adventures of Mrs Claus.  If that wasn’t enough, she also has a giveaway going.  You can win an MP3 download of the stories, or, if you live in the US, you can win the CD version.

Head on over and check it out.

Embrace the Camera – 8 December 2011

December 8, 2011

 

As you know, it was my birthday this week, so here is a picture of the birthday girl.

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Gosh, a bit of cheekiness peeking through there!  Maybe I am related to my kids, after all.

Just as an aside, I have found another reason to love my chubby face.  Recently we had some old photos put up at our Church.  There was a photo each of my DH and of me.  I was not only much younger 15 years ago, but I was also much skinnier.  I have to say that a little extra pudding on my face does soften what can be some rather defined bone-work!

DH and I had a bit of a giggle at the photos and agreed that, although we would not have thought so then, we really like each other a lot more now (and although he has aged a bit in those in-between years, I think he is even more handsome now.)

 

Linking up with: image

(Actually I didn’t end up linking up, as Emily has just given birth to little Olive.  Congratulation, Emily!)

Second Week of Advent – Thursday

December 8, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

Wow!  Look what happened overnight!

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Itty-bitty candy canes have sprouted!

The boys think it is absolutely amazing.  They really believe that they are growing and are afraid of damaging them.  At one point, Bandicoot’s fell over and all the little canes fell out.  Oh the tears!  DH told him that maybe if we quickly put them back in they would still be okay.

Of course, the real challenge is not to eat them all – if you eat them all when they are so little, no big ones will grow, will they?  This has had two outcomes:

Bandicoot – eat all except one

Possum – only eat one per day and see how big they grow

See how big they grow? See how big they grow? Oh-oh!  We have explained that they will only grow to a certain maximum size and probably stop.  Or else, as DH put it, what would happen if we never picked them?  They would keep growing and growing and take over the house and we would have nowhere to live!  Judging from the giggles that this elicited, I am not sure if some little boys are planning an science experiment.

 

And on the topic of candy canes, it seemed a great time to introduce this book:

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It appeared in the Countdown to Christmas Box this morning.

I have read about this book for a couple of years now on many American blogs.  It sounded good, but I wasn’t sure if it would live up to expectations.  Some things are lost in the cultural divide.

When I found it for just $7- I thought I could take the risk and find out for myself.

I have to say that I was well-pleased with this one.

It is a lovely story about a (very jolly looking) Candy-maker who designs a new lolly – the candy-cane.  It talks about why he made it like he did, reflecting on the Christian message.  It is written nicely in verse, with big, beautiful decorations and pictures of the most delicious looking candy canes.

When I read it to the kids today, we stopped and had a little discussion about English dialects.  They now understand that “Candy” is what people in America call lollies.  (We also included that they are called “sweets” in the UK.)  Tonight when DH read the book he substituted “lolly” in place of “candy” throughout.  I had to chuckle quietly to myself.  He really hates it when people here say things like “cookie”, “fire-truck” or “store”.  At least it didn’t ruin the rhymes!

Second Week of Advent – Wednesday

December 6, 2011

Possum is 5 years 7 months

Bandicoot is 3 years 5 months

Little Princess is 11 months

 

This is what we found in the Countdown to Christmas Box this morning.  Bandicoot wanted to eat the lollies, so it was a bit tricky convincing him that they were magic lollies and it would be better to let them do their stuff.  We got there in the end.

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Firstly we planted the tiny lollies in the cotton wool in the pots, then we placed them on the window-sill were they could get some sunlight (assuming there was a break in the rain).  Finally they were sprinkled with ***magic growing dust*** (teeny-tiny, itty-bitty star shaped foil glitter).

Then we waited.

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And waited.

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Poor Bandicoot!  His patience levels are even lower than those of his mother!  Several times during the day he checked the pots to see if there had been a change yet.  I am glad we ended up having such a busy day out of the house because I don’t think he would have coped otherwise.

I have suggested that perhaps they require moonlight as well as sunlight for the magic to really work.  We will have to see what happens in the morning…  

Spritz Biscuits

December 6, 2011

 

I am not a biscuit baker.  Cakes do not phase me.  Quick breads, muffins, breads, all in my stride.  Biscuits – argh!  They are temperamental things.  You need to watch them so carefully.  Moments too soon out of the oven and they are soft (or runaway if they are gingerbread men), moments too late and they are burnt.  The same with packing them away.  Pack them too soon and they go soft in the tin, too late and they go soft on the cooling rack.

So of course, it makes sense that I bake a myriad of biscuits at this time of year, doesn’t it.

This was tonight’s offering:

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Delicious Swedish Almond Spritz Biscuits.

 

I particularly like these for a number of reasons:

  • We never had a dough-forcer growing up.  I had never even heard of one until I stumbled on a butter cookie recipe that used one.  I was attracted to the recipe in the search because it had the name “spritz” in the title, which is such a cool word.  (So much nicer than the English equivalent of “squirt”, don’t you think?)  Therefore this recipe is testament to my grown up ability to learn new tricks (thank you, You-Tube).
  • They are a Swedish recipe.  I have Swedish ancestry on my Father’s side (and a Swedish surname), but little was passed down.  Most of our Swedish traditions have been re-found.
  • They are a little fancy, but not too fiddly to make.
  • They taste good!

 

When I first discovered dough forcers I found that there were pretty much two types that you can get.  The first is the bells and whistles version that retails at around $70 – $80.  That seemed like a lot of money to me, especially when I didn’t even know if I liked the recipe.

The second type is the $5 – $10 model.  It is plastic.  It has a small barrel so you have to keep refilling it (for which, I have now discovered, a piping bag is ideal.  No, not really overkill at all!).  It can be hard to work, leaving you with a very sore thumb.  And sometimes the end falls off onto the baking tray.  However, it suits me just finely.

Now all that is left is to try and get the timing right for packing them into the bikkie tin.