Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Resolutions

2014... Good bye. You had some amazing, beautiful highs- holding my beautiful Benedict for the first time, completing my NQT year, seeing my first child enter the world of education, finding out my husband was acquitted of a crime that should never have been allowed to happen. There have been some huge lessons learnt and I am grateful to be able to reflect on them now.

2015... I am glad you are here. I am ready for you. Bring. it. on.

This year I aim to -

Be more affectionate,loving and patient with my children.

Work hard at my new job in order to help contribute to paying off loans and saving for a family home.

Be more vigilant at documenting our life through my blog (1 a week, not that hard right??)

Cut down time spent on Facebook to once a day for only 5 minutes.

Spend more time reading books in the evening (use the new freed up Facebook time to do this).

Have a regular date night with my husband at least 3 a month.

Here's to a fabulous new year filled with progress , fun memories and happiness.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

The most wonderful time of the year

Christmas last year was fraught with worry about the future of our family. Would we even be able to celebrate it as a family in 2014 etc...

Well, a year has gone by and many of the raging storms that threatened to drown us have calmed and we are able to savour and enjoy each moment once again.

This Christmas we agreed to make it a really good one to make up for last year.

At the end of November we started a 'family traditions tree' (a very quickly put together with foil and some ribbons craft attempt). It's purpose was for Gareth and I to write down all the things we would like to start doing as a family in the lead up to Christmas. We included things we may have done growing up as children, and also put new ideas. Each year we will add new ideas as the kids have more of an input.

These traditions included things like - Writing a letter to Father Christmas, Visiting Father Christmas in his grotto, filling shoeboxes and sending them to 'operation Christmas Child', baking various Christmas goods and delivering to neighbours with a carol on Christmas eve, donating to a local food bank and several others


So here are (quite a few) photos of our Christmas adventures so far...

From the beginning of November, the kids have been really excited about Christmas. They are at the age now that they are really bought into the magic of it all. I realise that there are precious few years that I will get them fully convinced by it all, so I am milking it for all it's worth!

Writing letters to Santa...

Since starting school in September Aniah has come on leaps and bounds in her reading and writing. With a little support with sound talking she managed to write her own letter this year.

Zak dictated his requests to Daddy who wrote it down...





One family home evening, we watched some 'Operation Christmas Child' videos together and talked about children who don't have much at Christmas. Earlier that day I had been to the shop to buy a few things to go into the boxes, so the kids were able to help fill them and chose a few soft toys of their own to include too. They absolutely loved doing them and were really excited by the idea that they were sending nice things to children far away.






The kids have been leaving half eaten snacks out for Santa since about mid November!


I've never attempted salt dough for some reason. But I finally got round to making a batch with Zak so we could cut out some Christmas shapes to make ornaments.





Once they had hardened, Aniah was home from school so they both had a go at painting them.
NB - some suggest poster paint mixed with pva... it didn't work at all. Go for acrylics, it adheres so much better.


I've been so excited about Christmas this year that I managed to convince the hubby to get the Christmas decs down from the loft a little earlier. We got ours up on the 24th of November! Oh yes. We are that cool.



 As you can imagine the kids were giddy with excitement. We gave them half an hour of decorating before they went to bed (after which I pretty much re-decorated the whole tree). I have wonderful memories of decorating our old family farm house as a child, all of us prancing around not being particularly helpful to my parents. Making huge long paper chains to go along the hall was a particular favourite.




 


At the end of November I had the privilege of meeting up with two of my bestest school friends Ruth and Katie at the Birmingham Christmas market. Gareth was a super star, driving me up then keeping our three munchkins entertained all afternoon. It was amazing catching up with them both. We've all ended up as teachers (English and Primary) funnily enough.


This year we thought we'd go down the American traditions route and get all dressed up in Christmas outfits for a family photo. We used them to create a Christmas card for friends and family.


 




We gave making paper snowflakes a go. Zak required rather close supervision as he wielded the scissors  around like they were a pair of shearers.


Then came Aniah's Christmas concert. She'd been really unwell in the few days leading up to it, but thankfully made it for the performance. She'd been working really hard at her line 'He sat himself upon the ground and let out a great big sigh'




We felt so proud of her!


Each year we attend the nursery party... lots of hyper children, cheesy songs and a visit from the welsh sounding Santa!

Last year we never made it to Santa's grotto. So this year I did a bit of research and discovered that the one of the garden centres locally was doing a Narnia themed experience. It was only a fiver each child, and that included a magical experience with the snow queen, snow machine, a real fox, a photo with Santa and a gift at the end. Bargain!


Christmas is not complete without a good dose of glitter...

This stuff got everywhere!!  I'm pretty sure Bennie had it in his hair for a week after this.

Don't ask me why Aniah is the Birthday boy,,,


There was so much glitter left on the table that it lended itself quite well to mark making!


Learning a Christmas song on the piano.

I've been wondering when the right time to start teaching the basics of the piano to the kids would be. So the other day when the children asked me to play some Christmas songs I seized the opportunity to teach them both how to play jingle bells. Zak can't read yet, so I used coloured stickers to differentiate the notes and this seemed to work quite well. Aniah can now sort of play the first part of jingle bells unaided :) Zak can play the tune if I'm telling him which colour to play next.

We've been decorating ginger bread. A great activity to promote fine motor skills :)


Hand print angels...

I found this book in a charity shop the other day that's got tonnes of great Christmas craft and cooking ideas. It's been great to dip into now and again when my inspiration is running low!






Gareth and I were able to attend a craft fair with Zak during the last few weeks of term. It was great to have some 1:1 time with him. Particularly for Gareth as he's now working some crazy long hours at his new job.


There were some lovely activities set up, Zak had a great time!


We had loads of crafts by the end of the morning!


A few weeks before Christmas there was a party at church. The kiddies decided they must dress up. We had Elsa and an elf.


Matt (my brother in law/bishop) always organises brilliant parties. It was a generation game followed by Santa.


Can't go get through Christmas without making a cotton wool snow man!



I loved helping them make a 'Polar Express' to our Christmas Tree. They put a selection of toys along the way and put our Santa doll at the end.Some lovely imaginative play during this game :)


So back to our traditions tree from the start. We wanted to teach the kids about the importance of giving at Christmas, so we donated food, toys ahd clothes to Telford community centre.

Cooking is something Aniah and Zak love getting involved with. So I got them busy with a couple of Christmas treats to give to friends and family.





When they were in bed,  spent the evening making little gift jars for the treats to go in.


Finally, we used potato stamps to decorate the labels :)



They got a bit frustrated with the stamps and ended up finger painting!



All finished!


I cheated a little this year making mince pies using pre made pastry and jar mince meat... but the kids loved making their own tray.

 

The smell of mince pies baking really put me in a festive mood!


I loved Aniah's interpretation of a Christmas tree using block shapes... "See it's got a pattern Mummy and a star on top!"


 This year has been full of fun new traditions and I've loved seeing the children get so excited about Christmas. Children definitely bring the magic back!