Using the Advent to Develop Character Plus Christmas Book Giveaway!

How has the Advent season been progressing for you? I have to say, that it has been creating such excitement at our house, but it has also had the hidden blessing of assisting the children to develop valuable character traits. During this month while waiting for Christmas Day, not only have they been learning about the true meaning of Christmas, they have also been developing patience, self control, kindness, co-operation, forgiveness and joyfulness (in all circumstances, not just when things are going they way they desire).

Elvey, our little Elf on the Shelf, has been a loved addition of the house again and the bigger kids are really being patient with the younger children helping them to find the elf. To be truthful, I feel like last year Elvey was put in a few more creative places. I just seem to be scrambling this year, jumping out of bed when I hear the children are up and rushing him off to a new shelf. Yesterday I heard the children were coming so I jumped out of bed and tried to untie Elvey from the tinsel he was bungee jumping from. The triplets walked out and I kind of chucked the Elf behind my shoulder and was standing there playing with the tinsel, as you do. In the true spirit of the toddler, they stood there staring, asked me 20 times what I was doing, then ran off. I managed to untie the elf and as they ran back stuff him under my nightie (poor elf) and run him to the Christmas tree and shove him up the top. Now the people who think the elf is creepy (he’s not that bad, is he?) probably are also accusing him of looking up the angel’s skirts.

The kids also have been enjoying the store bought Advent Calendars. I know, people are getting excited about non-chocolate advent traditions, and as you know, we are doing this also. However, I think one little chocolate is really not that harmful. The calendars are cheap, and it’s just a little bit of fun. Turns out it’s teaching self control and patience also. Mind you, two of my children have failed miserably with the self control, so now they are learning a lesson of consequences for your actions as they watch the other children eat a chocolate each day while they miss out because of their bulk consumption.

My favourite tradition has been the Advent books. Admitedly, it took me a little while to get going with this. I hurriedly had wrapped the first book, chucked it under the tree and explained to the children that I would be getting one child each day to unwrap a book in the lead up to Christmas. Because there was only one book, and three 3 year olds had limited understanding about what I had explained, it wasn’t a happy moment around the Christmas tree. My 5 year old who is also learning that it is more blessed to give then to receive and my 8 year old managed better self control then the others, but I think he was a little disappointed he didn’t open the present on the same day as well. The Accountant watched the proceedings, (it looked like we were exploring the book of Lamentations from the Bible rather than the Gospels), shook his head saying he didn’t know why I had these hair brained ideas and walked off.

It then took a few more days before I got all the presents wrapped, and I chose not to do any more books until there was a pile and I could show the children that there was a label telling which day it was to be opened and which child would open it. Nevertheless, we had to repeat the process of protests and wailing and then we watched the next child open the book and we read it together. We then repeated the wailing and lamenting when the children discovered they had to wait for another day until they opened the next present. All the same, there were two children who unwrapped some books half an hour later when I was no longer policing the tree. (There was a common denominator with the Advent thief).

However, thanks to persistence and lots of explaining, they now mostly sit happily together and watch each other unwrap. I have been very clear that the books belong to the family, not the individual. The child is wrapping it for one another. I’m also strict that everyone sits together and watches it get unwrapped and listens to the story. It is a valuable lesson in being happy for one another and I think (and hope!) that it is actually setting really good groundwork for not being selfish on Christmas morning also.

The stories have also been wonderful in building the Christmas spirit. I’m very excited to let you know that five of those stories could be yours! Scholastic Australia is generously giving away five Christmas book packs. Each selection will include

One Night
Where’s Santa Around the World
Deck the Shed with Bits of Wattle
There Was an Old Bloke Who Swallowed a Present
Santa’s Busy Reindeer

To find out more about these books, they are included in my review of 24 children’s books for Christmas.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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24 Books About Christmas

The Advent is upon us. If you don’t have a plan, here is an idea for you using books about Christmas. (It’s still early days, you can totally start today or tomorrow, or later, if you want!) Wrap up a book for each day until Christmas, and every day your child can unwrap the book and you can read them together. A friend of mine mentioned on Facebook that she did this last year, and I thought it was a fabulous idea so we are doing it this year. I’m not buying 25 new books. We already have several Christmas books, I packed them away with the Christmas tree so they feel new at Christmas time, so this will work perfectly for me. The few new books we have in the mix this year were given to me by Scholastic to review.

1. The Nights Before Christmas (24 Classic Stories Illustrated by Tony Ross)

If you were going to choose one book from this list, (and you have children 6 years and older), choose this one. The stories are quite long, so it’s not the best book for toddlers. If you got it while the children are under 8, it will certainly be a keepsake to treasure in years to come. I think the stories would be suitable right through to upper primary. The reason I would recommend it so highly is that I suspect most households would have a selection of modern Christmas books in their libraries.  This book is literary extension for the modern day kid and has classic tales, which sometimes take longer to tell, but also develops the child’s literature appreciation as well as extending vocabulary and gaining literary knowledge. Many of the stories are age old classics that our grandparents would have read or listened to during their childhood. With the wealth of children’s books available these days, sometimes the classics that have been passed down the generations are being overlooked for some of the newer stories and their bright glossy covers. This book has a story for each day in December (a perfect advent alternative) and includes work by authors such as Leo Tolstoy, Hans Christian Anderson, the Brothers Grimm, Charles Dickens and The Bible. Titles include The Snow Queen, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, The Little Match-Seller, The Story of the Christ-Child, Good King Wenceslas and The Nativity.

I love that the lavish images depicted by Tony Ross bring these golden oldies to light.

2. My First Countdown to Christmas (Dr. Mary Manz Simon)

If you have a toddler and you were choose one book from this list, choose this one! I bought our copy years ago from Koorong, they are still selling it, click here if you are interested. Each day has an explanation about Christmas traditions or the Christmas story, followed by a simple activity for children to do which will channel a young child’s anticipation for Christmas and help them celebrate the birth of Jesus. There is also a simple prayer and Bible verse for each day.

This is a board book, so it really is suitable for little children, but my lower primary child still engages with the text and it’s a great springboard to discuss the significance of Christmas each day.

3. There Was an Old Bloke Who Swallowed a Present (P. Crumble & Louis Shea)

My boys love this crazy old bloke. We enjoyed The Old Bloke Swallowing a Rabbit at Easter, so there is no doubt that the boys are going to once again be laughing at this silly old codgers antics, starting with its amazing lenticular moving image cover! There are funny elements to look for on each page, which always engrosses them following the sub-stories contained in the illustrations.

4. Child of Bethlehem (Elena Pasquali)

This story very closely follows the Biblical account of The Nativity, yet uses simplified, (but not dumbed down) easy to understand language with bright and colourful illustrations. It is so important to our family that the children understand the real reason behind Christmas, so it is imperative that The Nativity features in this list.

5. My Merry Christmas (Rosie Smith & Bruce Whatley)

This is a particularly good book for very small children. Even older babies would be able to engage with much loved illustrator, Bruce Whatley’s, illustrations of friendly animals on each page. There is only a few words on each page, so their attention should be maintained the duration of the book. I’ve had 5 babies though, and know there is no guarantee when it comes to babies and attention! The book describes some of the traditions we follow at Christmas, so toddlers are quick to engage with the content and relate it to their own experiences.

6. Santa’s Busy Reindeer (Ed Allen, Nathaniel Eckstrom)


It’s nearly Christmas! The presents are wrapped and the sleigh is packed, but ten of Santa’s reindeer still have lots to do. This rhyming story can be sung to the tune of ‘Ten Green Bottles’. Personally, I see the benefits of these counting/subtraction stories, but singing them to my kids often bores me to tears, even though the child isn’t bored in the slightest. This particular book has got enchanting illustrations in it though, so I quite enjoyed it. Trent also loved finding the hidden number to look for in each scene. So I have to admit, even though these are not my favourite books, there are great reasons for reading/singing them. (It must be helping, Trent already recognises all numbers 10 and under. Subtraction isn’t an easy concept to learn either, so this is a good into. He will be well and truly ready for Prep next year!)

7. Santa Koala (Colin Buchanan & Glen Singleton)

Our children are a little bit in love with Colin. Any book that accompanies a CD of Colin singing is bound to be a winner in our house. Feature Santa in the story … and well, you can’t lose! (We also love have a Christmas DVD with Colin outlining the Christian elements of Christmas which brings a bit of balance to all the fun also!) This song is to the tune of Waltzing Matilda and very Aussie, particularly with the real Santa calling Santa Koala a great galah for delivering the presents early!

8. A Snugglepot and Cuddlepie Christmas (Mark Mac Leod, illustrated by May Gibbs)

This is a Christmas story based on May Gibbs’ best-loved characters, Snugglepot and Cuddlepie introducing the timeless artwork of May Gibbs to a new generation with illustrations capturing the beauty of the Australian bush. I hadn’t realised that when May Gibbs died in 1969 she bequeathed the copyright of her bush characters to charities.

In doing so the sale of May Gibbs products have supported thousands and Australian children with disabilities and their families. Royalties from this book goes to Cerebral Palsy Alliance and Northcott Society.

9. The Twelve Days of Christmas (Alison Jay)

It’s a song that must be sung every Christmas, never mind that it makes no sense that a man would give a woman bizarre gifts like geese, milk maids, jumping lords and swans. (The five golden rings of course are not bizarre, that is a dazzling good choice.)

Alison Jay is a graduate of the London College of Printing and a critically acclaimed illustrator of many children’s books. (The Nutcracker, Welcome to the Zoo & Nursery Rhyme Rainbow.) The old style illustrations in this book are simply enchanting, and have been presented in such a way that much of the gifts happen around an ‘olden days’ couple, rather than turning up on her doorstep, so it doesn’t feel so silly, but instead quite beautiful.

10. My Christmas Crackers (Bronwen Davies)

This book contains a host of funny Christmas jokes that are sure to delight any child. My children loved this book last year. (Read about that here) I am positive that it will be a popular book again this year.

Why didn’t the lobster share its toys at Christmas?
Because it was shellfish.

11. Deck the Sheds with Bits of Wattle (Colin Buchanan & Greg Champion)

A hilarious Australian take on Deck the Halls performed by Colin Buchanan and with gorgeous Aussie illustrations by Glen Singleton.

Deck the Shed with bits of wattle,
Whack some gum leaves in a bottle
Syd Echidna’s feeling chipper,
It’s Christmas Eve – my shed’s a ripper.


12. Blossom Possum and the Christmas Quacker (Gina Newton & Christina Booth)


Children’s book character favourite Blossom Possum is involved in a Christmas adventure as she goes along the bush track to find her old friends Rocky Cocky, Echo Gecko and Toey Joey to try to wake Koala Claws so the Bush Christmas is not ruined. They need to find other friends to help and on the way halt By Jingo Dingo from eating a duck. (I feel a bit sorry for the dingo in this book, his family is hungry, and I’m with the dingo on this one, duck really is delicious.) In the end it was lucky they saved the duck (the Christmas Quacker) since it was able to wake Koala Claws and Bush Christmas is saved.
13. One Night (Penny Matthews & Stephen Michael King)


On the first Christmas Eve, so the story goes, the animals were given a very special gift to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Since then, at midnight on Christmas Eve the animals remember. A beautiful retelling of an old Christmas folktale. A magical story about how very Christmas Eve at midnight the animals can speak and they relive a Christmas Eve long ago when Jesus was born.


14,15. Where’s Santa? and Where’s Santa Around the World? (Louis Shea)


These are two wonderful search and find books. I don’t know why boys are particularly attracted to these search and find books, but they are. My boys are no exception, and I blogged about how much the loved these books last year here. These are perfect books for getting children preoccupied with hunting through the colourful images and humorous sub stories to find Santa. Particularly good if you need your children to sit in a corner quietly during a festive occasion!
16. The Busy Christmas Stable


This book will be perfect for my three year olds. It’s a robust board book which is sure to entertain with tabs that make animals and people move in the stable throughout the story. A wonderful way to share the story of Jesus’ birth with the little ones.
17. Aussie Jingle Bells (Colin Buchanan and Nick Bland)


I absolutely adore this book (and CD) which ought to be no surprise, how could you go wrong with Colin and beloved children’s author Nick Bland? The illustrations are so very Aussie, and it captures a lot of an Aussie larrikan family Chrissy with kids jumping in pools, swinging on clothesline, Grandpa dozing, and driving in a ute on a scorching summers day in singlet, shorts and thongs.
Oh! Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!
Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer’s day, hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!
Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden ute.
My particular favourite is that the family packs the car and shoot through before the washing up! (We are all so tempted to do this, are we not?) I’ve actually bought a few copies of this book to send overseas as gifts this year.

18, 19. Thomas and Friends books

These are just little books I have picked up at the supermarket, but nevertheless the children really do love the stories. I mean, you can never go wrong with Thomas, can you?

20. The Nativity (illustrated by Julie Vivas)

The text in this book is straight from the Bible, however the illustrations are in the contemporary style of Julie Vivas. Julie Vivas is became famous when she illustrated Mem Fox’s Possum Magic  in 1983. Since then her illustrations have continue to enchant and delight children. This account of the nativity is no different, the illustrations draw you in and make you examine them carefully and contemplate what life really was like during that first Christmas.

21. We Wish You a Ripper Christmas (Colin Buchanan & Greg Champion)

Yes, I know, another Colin book, but seriously, it’s impossible to overdose on Colin. If you are going on a road trip, it would be an even better reason to own all these books and CD’s (yes, there’s a CD again!) to play throughout the trip while the children delight in the wonderful Aussie illustrations in the back.

OK, so this is the CD for one of the above books and I was too lazy to go and take another photograph, so be inspired anyway. CD’s and road trips, a perfect Christmas combo!

This time the book is illustrated by Roland Harvey and his funny and distinctive Australian flavour.

22. My First Christmas – Magnetic Adventures

This has been a much loved book in our family that I bought quite some time back at our local Koorong. (Brilliant Christian bookstore) I actually need to go hunting a little bit before I put this book out this year because I realised when I unpacked it that the baby Jesus plus Joseph and Mary are missing (and perhaps a few other key characters from the Nativity.) I hope I can find them, because the children adore moving the magnetic characters through the various magnetic scenes and telling the story together.

23. My First Story of Christmas (Tim Dowley)

The Christmas story told in a child friendly manner with cute illustrations.

24. ‘Twas the Night – The Nativity Story (Melody Carlson)

I thought on Christmas Eve it would be good to pause and remember it’s not all about Santa coming, but rather that the arrival of baby Jesus would be the beginning of salvation for mankind. This is a beautiful book and a wonderful retelling of the nativity story to the cadence of “The Night Before Christmas”.

Twas the night before Christmas when all through the stable
Not a creature was stirring, though plenty were able.
The ox and the cow and the goat and the sheep
All comfy and cozy, had drifted to sleep.

A perfect book the night before the big event!

Do you have any favourite Christmas stories/books in your home? Are you counting down the Advent this year and if so how?

I am linking with Essentially Jess for IBOT

* I was gifted some of these books by Scholastic Australia. All opinions are my own, and I wouldn’t make a recommendation unless myself and/or my children enjoyed the books.

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Elf on the Shelf – Easy Peasy Ideas!

Last year The Elf on the Shelf joined our household. Our elf was named “Elvey” by the children and each day they would seek him out to find out where his new spot for the day was. For those who aren’t familiar with The Elf on the Shelf, (it’s a newish concept for most of us in Australia, even though it’s firmly established in the US.), our elf, like all other Elves who sit on shelves, is a scout elf. He sits and watches the children all day and at night magically flies back to Santa where he tell Santa what’s been happening in our household. (Oh yes, there were some naughty moments last year where I did point to the elf and then witnessed a miraculous behaviour shift.) There is a story book which arrives with the elf outlining all of this, and the book also makes it clear that to retain the elf’s magic you cannot touch the elf. (Sheer brilliance, it’s clear the author was familiar with children!)

Elf on the Shelf from Amazon

During December, we really had so much fun with Elvey. Mind you, I wasn’t always creative with his placement, (Hello! I had two year old triplets!) There was some mornings that I was secretly hiding the elf behind my back and scampering through the house to shove the elf in a new spot for the day. Thanks to the innocence of childhood, my children were delighted to see him even if he was doing nothing exciting, the thrill of finding him was enough for them. Exhibit A & B below!

Trent discovering The Elf on the Shelf
Trent discovering The Elf on the Shelf was hanging from the fan.
Jonty discovering The Elf on the Shelf
Jonty looking at the elf simply sitting on a shelf!

Elf on the Shelf Hanging Underwear from the Ceiling Fan.

Elf on the shelf on a ceiling fan

 Oh yeah. That cheeky elf looked very comfy hanging in the kids pants. Trent was a little disgruntled, but happily saw the joke eventually.

Elf on the Shelf in undies

Sitting on a Shelf With Candy Canes looking Christmassy.

Hanging Out in the Bathroom and Plastering the place with Bows.
This was actually more complex then I expected! The bows just would not stay on and were dropping off everywhere! By the morning there was basically a pile of gift bows on the bench top.

 Elvey was hanging on the shower screen, but kindly offered the children the candy canes for a Christmas snack.

He also left a letter giving them some feedback!
Luckily the boys thought it was cool!

Hanging out with the Nativity crowd.

Getting spicy in the spice rack.
It took forever for the boys to find the elf this day, and the needed some substantial clues before they could locate him. Another example of how simplicity did not disappoint.

Hanging around Drawing
I gave my sister the honours of elf placement one night when she was visiting and this was what he ended up doing.

 Mixing it Up.
The elf on the shelf was in the playroom mixing an invisible something in the toy pots and pans this day. Trent ‘wrote’ (it was dictated) a letter to Santa and got us to put it on the Shelf with the Elf so he could deliver it to Santa when he flew back to the workshop that evening. (He got one thing on the list, Santa can’t deliver everything it turns out!)

Checking out the Aussie Animals Cards
Turns out even elves can get sucked in by Woolworths brilliant marketing ploy.

Wise Old Elf on the Shelf
Once more Elvey is on a shelf. This time hanging with the owls.

Elf on the Shelf with owl
Reindeer Loving Elf
Last year I bought these gorgeous white reindeer from Coles. Elvey loved the little guys as well. Must have made him homesick for the reindeer back at the North Pole. So he fed them carrots. This was actually my favourite elf position that I did, even though the poor little guy needed to be roped in as well. It can be hazardous hanging on to a carrot that is more than your body weight.
Elf on the shelf feeding a reindeer.

Another morning Elvey was riding the reindeer. As you can see, the boys thought this was funny.

Elf on the Shelf riding a reindeer

Elf on the Shelf riding a reindeer

Toilet Paper Mischief
It seems that scout elves often end up creating mischief in the toilet. Trent was aghast. Personally, I  would not be hanging out in our loo if I were an elf. Trust me. Little boys have bad aim. Our WC is not always a pleasant place to be.

Elf on the Shelf in the toilet

Elf on the Shelf with toilet paper

In any case, The Elf on the Shelf was a lot of fun for our family last year and I’m looking at finding more places for Elvey to hide this year. It will be more fun for the triplets this year also I think.

I’ve got a Pinterest Board full of ideas of where Elvey can hang out – but would love to hear a suggestion if you have one! Have you heard of Elf on the Shelf? Do you have a scout elf at your home or do something similar? Are your kids starting to catch the Christmas spirit yet?

Linking with Essentially Jess

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Christmas Capers

Hoping that everyone had a Merry Christmas!

If you had some less then merry moments, take heart. Your Christmas may have been similar to ours.

I commented in this post that one of things I want people to get out of my blog, is to be able to identify with someone being ‘real’ about the highs and lows of life and parenting. It is in that spirit that I will honestly share with you about our Christmas. Because if you are going to have a happy heart, it’s sometimes how you handle the less then happy moments. If you can’t keep smiling after a bad day, you smiles will soon dry up after the good days.

On Christmas Eve I was rather cranky. Not entirely a Christmas Grinch, but pretty darn close. It started when I found out I was missing out on my mother’s Christmas pudding. (I had thought we had switched our families tradition of hot meal at night to lunch so that we could participate.) I don’t know if I got grumpy because the Christmas eating plans were changed, or if I was already in a grumpy state of mind which made me suffer severe disappointment when I found out that Christmas day was slightly different to what I was thinking. In short, I think sleep deprivation would be a major participant in the upheaval of my emotions.

So, I was short tempered. The problem with the mummy being short tempered is that it sets the tone for the family. So, it’s possible that even after I was trying hard to maintain my composure, nerves had already been strained.

Anyway, I’m going to have to speed up this summary of our Christmas, otherwise it will never get posted. I already started this Christmas Night and haven’t got far.

So in short:

Christmas Eve morning: Babies crying, mother cranky about change in Christmas plans, husband recognised bad mood, trying to settle down wife by dealing with babies as much as possible, then sending wife to do grocery shop to get needed supplies for Christmas. Sends wife with two year old. After shopping with two year old in a grocery store on Christmas Eve, wife/mother still stressed. Grocery shop completed, despite many various items being sat on and stumbled over by the Christmas Elf. I managed to evict the groceries that had been added by little Mr. Helpful and retrieve the groceries that he had evicted. Hopefully T-Star made some shoppers a little bit more merry during their shopping, he was being incredibly cute hanging off the end of the trolley greeting them with a cheery, “Hello”!

Christmas Eve afternoon: Returned started trying to unpack, gave up and had to start breastfeeding. Sister arrived to help out. Praise the Lord. Brought back J Boy who had been helping out with his cousin’s on Grandad’s farm. J Boy utlra excited about the secrecy surrounding Christmas, walked around the house trying to peek at things. Had to warn him about looking outside. Alex had begun to erect the Christmas trampoline. Fed babies, sister burped babies. Tried to put babies down. Babies cried. Picked babies up, looked around disaster of my house in despair. Tried to tidy up holding baby in one arm, very slow, not so successful. Discovered J Boy peeked outside and saw half finished tramp. Denied his request to jump on it. Behaviuor went south. J Boy declared he hated the trampoline. He wanted it wrecked. He wanted the old (awfully unsafe, awfully small) trampoline. He was going to break it. I tried to respond in the best way possible, succeeding only part of the time. Friends arrived. We were supposed to be walking up to the park together so Alex and his mate could build the trampoline in secrecy. Since this was now a pointless excercise, the kids played outside. J Boy recovered enough to play with the children, and be a little bit more civil. Once the trampoline was constructed, it was christened. After feeding again, I took advantage of having an extra set of hands and handed a baby to my friend and started buzzing around trying to tidy up. Friend, after getting baby to sleep, made dinner. Sister looked after remaining awake babies, before helping also. Felt a bit bad that a social visit results in working everyone, but grateful for the opportunity to get some things done. Wished I could have just sat down had a nice chat and a white wine, but that’s not possible at the moment.

Christmas Eve night: Had a yummy roast meal with friends. Kids had been playing in water outside, and despite my friend sweeping the floor a few times, by the time they left there was grass and mud walked through the house everywhere. Wanted to get a clean by Christmas Day, but wasn’t possible, so our Christmas visitors were greeted to a very dirty floor! Shared presents with friends. Was mortified when my ungrateful child didn’t like what he was given and threw his present. After Santa appeared at the Carols by Candlelight on TV, the friends went home. We went to put boys to bed, J Boy, still in a bad mood, decided to chuck a big tantrum. No putting out milk and bikkies in this family. Santa could get his own grub. Was thinking that the eldest member of the family had just made the naughty list. Child finally in bed, in between feeding, finished wrapping presents and filling stockings. At midnight I tumbled into bed. 10 minutes later a wailing was issued from the nursery. Feed time again. An hour and a half later, I finally got to sleep.

Christmas morning: Up at 4:00 to feed babies. When I went back to bed at 6:00 I thought it wouldn’t be too long until the children were up and discovering what Santa had left them. Alex and I found it a pleasant surprise to be woken at 8:00 by T-Star running in with an unopened present. The sleep in was the best gift of the day.

J Boy had fun opening his Santa sack.

He then removing all the goodies for the triplets from their stockings. And then, because T-Star was only interested in the initial ball that he first pulled out of his Santa sack, J Boy unpacked his presents as well.

Older boys were playing with toys and I began breastfeeding the babies again. We started opening presents under the tree while the triplets had their milk. At some point hereafter, for some reason I can’t remember, J Boy had a fit of the ungratefuls again. It became comletely horrid with him having a full blown tantrum. I was in tears and regretting that I had not put him on the naughty list the previous night. It was just awful. After all my planning and surprises and desire just to bring a smile on your child’s face on Christmas morning to have such a commotion. Completely deflated any Christmas joy. It is awfully hard to deal with a child’s bad behaviour also while caring for three babies and an active toddler, (who was delightful, and didn’t copy his big brother’s bad behaviour at all. He just was getting into things.) Alex and I did our best, but tempers were fraying. It seemed that my bad mood from the day before had transferred to Alex on Christmas Day. The result of weeks of sleep deprivation was all manifesting at the wrong time.

Finally settled things down after The Accountant took the boys out for a bike r

ide. We then hastily ate a croissant. I had planned eggs benedict served with ham and croissant. There was no way that plan was going to happen!

We were planning to get to my parent’s house at 11:00. By 12:00 I had just finished feeding again, and we decided that I would come after I had a shower and packed all the presents for the extended family in the other car. Alex bundled the boys in Buster the Santa Fe and left.

The bubs all snuggled up with their new Christmas toys.

It was actually quite nice having the house to myself for a bit, even if I was running around madly the whole time. I haven’t been in the house alone since the babies were born.

There was no way that I could even make the simple coleslaw that I was meant to bring. I suddenly became very happy that Christmas lunch plans had remained simple. Sometimes things not running to plan is a blessing.

Christmas afternoon: I arrived at my parents house at 1:00. By the time lunch was finally served it was time to feed again. I ended up eating after everyone had finished. We opened presents to and from my grandfather.

Then my father had to take him back to his nursing home, so the festivities were paused. I took this opportunity to rush home and do a few preparations for the dinner that night. I dearly would have liked to tidy up some more, but I knew I didn’t have time to do this, so rushed back to the family.

Dad arrived home and we opened presents to one another. Lots of fun as usual. Once again it was feed time again, so I had a baby attached to my breast most of the time.

Oh, have I mentioned that through all this, the babies were crying constantly and needed to be held?

By Boxing Day my arms were stiff and sore. Which didn’t matter to the babies in the slightest, they still insisited on being held then too. They still have refulx and colic badly. It seems like it’s getting worse during the day. At least they are normally doing a bit better at night.

At least there were plenty of people to hold babies.

We had to rush off before the presents were finished being opened to get ready for my mother-in-law coming over to our house for dinner. I always hate rushing away from my parents house on Christmas day. It feels like I miss out on so much. (Like Christmas pudding on this particular occassion!) However there are two sides of the family in town, so it’s not exactly fair to only see my family on the big day!

Christmas evening: I baked a Christmas ham. It had a peach and rum glaze which was very delicious. It was a pressure to get the glaze made on Christmas day, I wished I had time to do it earlier, but it just hadn’t been possible. I really wanted to bake the ham though. Ham tastes so much better after being baked, so if you are going to do it, one ought to eat the baked ham on Christmas day after all.  A couple of days earlier I had also prepared a steamed pudding. It was a Mango, Date and Macadamia Pudding and I was really proud of it.

We tried to get the boys to bed as early as possible to avoid further tantrums. Toddler T in particular had missed his sleep and was getting very grumpy. The triplets were still all crying and Christmas dinner had to be eaten while holding them. (Hence one of the reasons there were no photos taken during the evening, it was too full on! Plus I had no sister present to take charge of my camera and snap away!)

More presents. More feeding. The in laws did the great Christmas wash up, while I watched on, unable to participate. Alex was putting children to bed and also didn’t help. It just feels awful sometimes being so reliant on others to do everything for you. But for now, I need the help, so gratefully accept it when it’s offered.

In laws left. Babies continued to cry. Alex and I were late for bed. Then up again in a few hours feeding at 2am when all three woke up at once.

Boxing Day morning: At 5am all 3 babies woke at once again, so I needed Alex’s help. He was overtired and wanted to be in bed. We had a big fight. It was awful. But then right in the middle of heated moments Joey came off the breast and had a HUGE vomit. He practically lost his whole feed. I just started crying and all of a sudden we stopped fighting and started doing whatever we could to make the little baby comfortable. We didn’t continue to fight at all and in an hour or two we spoke calmly and resolved to keep our marriage strong and work together. Since then it has been wonderful. J Boy’s bad mood also dissolved after having a chat with his Daddy before bed time on Christmas Day.

Now the only thing that needs improving is the triplet’s reflux and colic. We have held them constantly since Christmas day. It’s soooo exhausting for them and us. I have a paed. appointment booked for the 10th of Jan. It was the soonest I could get in, but I’m going to ring and see if I can get in sooner if there’s a cancellation. The poor little bubs are just in pain so much of the time. They are also still tiny. The boys are in the 10th  percentile for their age for premmie babies. Missy is in the 20th. They are still on the chart which is good, and they haven’t gone backwards, but it would be good for them to put on a bit more weight and not vomit it up all the time.

So anyway, this was our Christmas. Hectic, mad, total mayhem. I suppose it’s not all surprising considering that our family of 7 includes 11 week triplets.

The main thing is that we still celebrated the birth of Jesus, and are eternally grateful to what his coming to earth has meant to us and our family.

So, how was your Christmas? Have you ever had a less then perfect Christmas that was memorable for all the wrong reasons?

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Merry Christmas

At church on Sunday they showed this video of the Christmas story. Best evah! Oh how I laughed. Hope you enjoy it too! I love the star and the narration is so authentic kid speak. What’s your favourite bit?

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Mummy: Today at Kindy there’s going to be a puppet show. It’s going to be all about the first Christmas.
J Boy: Really? It’s about Christmas?
Mummy: Yes. The first Christmas. Who was the first Christmas all about?
J Boy: (contemplative) Ssssss…
Mummy: (thinks) You’re kidding me. How many times have I told him stories about the nativity and discussed the real meaning of Christmas? He’s going to say Santa.
J Boy: ssssss …. (pause) …. I was going to say Finn Mc Missile. But that’s not right! (Puts finger on forehead.) I know this! What is it? Oh Yeah. It’s about Jesus’s birthday.
Mummy: (thinks) Phew! He does know the real meaning of Christmas – um. I think.

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Christmas 2010 – The Gingerbread House

Christmas always feels like it starts on Christmas Eve. It’s the time when the anticipation reaches its climax. Of course the most anticipated event according to the J Bomb was the imminent arrival of Santa Claus. There was a great deal of discussion about the optimal positioning of the stocking, speculation of the contents and he was most eager to tidy up his room to ensure Santa’s safe passage, not wanting to be responsible for any injury while the jolly old man went about his business.

Cousins had been around that day to play.

They were busy all day which allowed me to make a pile of gingerbread slabs.

I used a recipe from Donna Hay‘s December ’09 issue. I hadn’t made a gingerbread house before and this recipe appealed to me because Donna described this as resembling a flat pack house, so it sounded easier than most.

One of the things that has frightened me with gingerbread houses is cutting out the various pieces accurately to ensure you can build the house. With this recipe you pressed the mixture into a cookie tray, so they were all the same size. Then you cut them. I was a bit frightened that I’d crumble the whole slab when cutting, so I had an extra slab. (Donna’s recipe was for a much bigger cookie sheet then mine, so that worked in well.) It was a bit time consuming because I had only one sheet in that size with sides, so I had to press the gingerbread in, cook it and then when it was cooled down enough, repeat the process over again. But since there were 5 kids in the house that day, it kind of worked in well spreading it out over the whole course of the day.
So here’s the mixture when I’ve pressed it into the tin. Lots of finger prints.

Donna Hay reccomended the back of a spoon to press it flat. I found a floured glass worked well and was a bit quicker.

So here’s the uncooked gingerbread as flat as I could get it. (It would have taken me until Boxing Day if I tried to make it perfect.

By the time the cousins headed home and The J Bomb and I were ready to construct the house, it was getting later in the afternoon. We made a good start and everything was going well until Daddy came home early and decided to mow the lawn with the ride on. Even though riding the mower is something that happens regularly, the gingerbread took a 2nd place so I had to wait until the grass was cut before continuing with the house. We did get it finished, but dinner that night was a casserole I had made the night before (in a fit or organisation) but there was nothing to accompany it. (I know, casseroles in an Australian December is ridiculous, but it has been quite cool in T-ba with all the rain.) Luckily the excitement of Christmas being the next day made everyone forgiving of our simple meal.

So, we got it finished and the boys were only half an hour late to bed. I had made the mistake in a past Christmas getting the kids late to bed on Christmas Eve and we all had a miserable day with tired cranky children, so I was determined to try to maintain the bedtime hour.

Here’s the finished product:

It was on display when the family came over on Christmas night, but we ended up letting the kids eat it on Boxing Day. This seemed to be a good move. I took it over to my Mum’s since we had a family get together there. Mum has complained that she is still finding squashed gingerbread in places. It seems our supervision skills needed improvement and some kids had wandered around eating. Being damp due to a high amount of rainfall made the biscuit quite soft. (In fact due to the mositure one of the eaves had collapsed before the kids could eat it.)

Oh, and remember I said I’d made an extra slab of gingerbread? After the boys were in bed, I whipped up a little manger. (This is what the kids ate on Christmas day.)

I left it on the table for a Christmas surprise.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun, and I have a feeling that we’ve just started a Christmas tradition.

Does anyone else make gingerbread houses for Christmas?

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The Beauty of Christmas

I am a big fan of Christmas. BIG. FAN.

Christmas 2010 was no disappointment. I’ll fill you in on the details soon, however I thought I’d have a little moment of reflection on Christmas.

Being a devoted follower of Jesus, the religious significance is the most important aspect of Christmas for me. As a Christian the arrival of Jesus on earth is central to my core beliefs. We were created by God but it was through the sacrifice made by Jesus that we have been able to enter into a relationship with God. This is the beauty of Christianity. To have a relationship with the God who created the universe is no small thing. It means that throughout the day I can constantly have chats with God. You don’t know how many times the big guy upstairs has helped me find my keys, or gives me unreal carparks. When I’m in the middle of all the Mummy moments that happen during the day, I am having a dialogue with God. The Holy Spirit pops little gems of wisdom into my mind constantly. It’s awesome. Having Him as my Father, most certainly makes me a better mother. Not to mention a better wife. Not mention a better person.

So why not celebrate the day he arrived on earth? After all that was the event that started the ball rolling so that eventually the tomb rolling would happen.

I am often in awe that so many of those who don’t acknowledge Jesus experience so many elements of Christian principles as they celebrate Christmas. When Jesus is the basis of a celebration it’s no wonder that words like “Love”, “Peace”, “Hope” and “Joy” are associated with Christmas. Actions such as generosity are widespread.  Family and friends are cherished. Laughter, smiles and high spirits abound. It’s a time when the teachings of the Bible are demonstrated throughout the world.

The angels said it well on that first Christmas. “Glory to God.” 

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Christmas Anticipation

The beauty of celebrating Christmas with children is their excitement on the day and the lead up to that day. I was just sitting at my computer, and glanced up at the Christmas tree and was amused to see that the J Bomb has obviously been tampering with the tree.

We had hung the candy canes so they were spread throughout the tree. It had taken a lot of guidance because the J Bomb had to be instructed in the ways of creating a balanced tree. Obviously he didn’t take to heart my lesson in aesthetics. There is futher evidence of tampering. I had forgotten to put the bead garland in the tree. (Possibly because I was trying to keep up with the J Bomb’s enthusiastic decorating.) I put it away for next year. Obviously J found it and decided it MUST be included.

And then Lo and Behold, he found more beads.

Before I had children, I used to take my time decorating the tree, and have every garland and bow hanging just right, the colours and ornaments distributed evenly throughout the tree. This is our child assisted tree!

(The ribbon hanging at the front is another unauthorised inclusion. It’s supposed to be hanging in the room somewhere, it has a bell on the end.)

But I should show you the tree if I take one step back. The Accountant made a baby barrier out of boxes, which also does not favours for aesthetic elements. Plus the baby can still climb over the top of them, however, it creates a delay. So far we’ve had one glass ornament smashed and Grandma has had a smash.

Decorating with kids is much more fun, but hectic, and of course colourful! Jonty choose blue baubles this year and even found blue tinsel to go with.

Even Mickey the Fish is looking a bit festive in his corner.

This is my favourite Christmas decoration this year. Red felt, simple buy stylish.

Of course my Willowtree Nativity Set is always a fav, on display as you enter our house.

It now has a sad family tale which I know I will regale every year as I put it out. Last year I sat the J Bomb in time out. He thought it was unjustified and the poor innocent wiseman was the object of his revenge. I cried. Then J cried because Mummy cried, then we howled. It wasn’t pleasant. Poor Balthazar literally has a chip on his shoulder over the unfortunate incident. He is also a bit upset that he has lost his gift. And now looks like he is folding his arms in reverence rather than holding myrrh.

Another thing that is contributing to the sense of anticipation in the prelude to Christmas is the Lego Advent Calender. The little lego figurines are so cute. Here is what it looks like after the J Bomb has finished playing with them.

And here are a few of my favourites.

And lastly, I’ve already voiced my concern about some of Santa’s antics this year. It seems even Lego Santa’s aren’t immune to scandal. Here is a nudie rudie Santa having a shower!

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Santa… Please Explain.

I have to say it, I think Santa Claus is out of line.

J Bomb has been to sit on Santa’s knees twice this year. He hasn’t done that before, he was a bit too frightened and I didn’t push this issue. We don’t talk up the whole Santa bringing presents deal, of course he is looking forward to Santa’s bounty, we don’t need to hype him up about it. I prefer to talk more about the Nativity and the real meaning of Christmas. Each time Santa has asked him what he would like for Christmas, and J has widened his eyes in surprise and thought carefully about his response in the same way you or I would if we were given an open cheque. The first time he seriously replied that he would like some chocolate coins. Santa looked a bit shocked at such a modest request, and then answered, “I think we can handle something that.” I was a it shocked by an absolute promise, but agreed with Santa, it was an easy gift to include in the stocking. Luckily for Santa I don’t have an issue/allergy/abhorence to my child eating chocolate coins. The J Bomb came home and very excitedly told The Accountant that Santa was bringing him chocolate coins for Christmas.

The next visit to Santa, Jonty answered the gift enquiry with a long detailed report on how his toy chainsaw wasn’t working at optimal performance. (Believe me, it is working, the household occupants needs ear muffs when it starts up.) Santa had no idea what the J Bomb was talking about and looked at me in bewilderment, I simply said, “He wants a new chainsaw.” Santa (probably appropriately) looked horrified, whereby I hastened to add, “A toy chainsaw, his old one isn’t working properly.”

“Oh!” said a much relieved Santa, “If I bring you a chainsaw, will you come to my house and chop up firewood for me?”

Now the J Bomb thinks he is going to receive the noisiest toy in history AND he thinks he gets to go to Santa’s digs.

And then there’s the Santa who came to Playzone today. I think Santa has jumped on the whole subliminal advertising bandwagon. Is nothing sacred anymore? I think Santy is getting kickbacks from Adidas. Next thing we’ll be seeing advertising on the side of his sleigh…

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