Sunday, 30 November 2014

The beginning of Advent, The Christmas Story

Today marks the first day of Advent. This is actually the first day of the liturgical year, and of course, the preparation time leading up to the Twelve Days of Christmas. The colour for this season is purple for penitence, reminding us to prepare ourselves in readiness for the arrival of Christ.

We use the time of Advent to get the children familiar with different aspects of the Christmas story.Traditionally we retell the story using our favourite book 'The Christmas Story', that the children can read and follow, together with a nativity set handed down to us from my family. This is a special set that is especially for the children to work with and use in their own way (with respect) as part of their own meditation.

Here was our first nativity story in photos for today. In the past we have retold the story every night at dinner time with the figurines. What is different this year is the addition of a few 'building materials' to create more of a scene for the children.


Our 'stable' scene. Some odd cutoff blocks, a bamboo mat, a cut off
from a wreath, a pine cone that my daughter received from a friend
at pre-school, a wooden ring serving as the base of the manger, and
a semi circle as the manger. Behind is a lantern for the candle.

The Christmas Story

The candle is lit, our story begins

Figurines lined up ready for the children to
choose which ones they would like to 'act' out

My husband starts with an Advent hymn: 'O Come O Come
Emmanuel', 'Conditor Alme Siderum', or 'Rorate Caeli'...

Reading together with my son. The story has not quite begun yet.
You can see my son has chosen Joseph and a few Kings... 

The Angel Gabriel appears to Mary.

Jesus arrives...
The Angel appears to the shepherd ...
The shepherd visits the baby Jesus...

The three kings visit the baby Jesus...

The Nativity set and 'stable' are packed away ready for next time...

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Christmas is coming. Time to decorate!

Last year I sourced the Usborne Christmas Decorations to cut, fold and stick and added it to the children's Advent Book Calendar selection in the lead up to Christmas. The children loved it. Now one year on they are opening the book again getting those scissors cutting, the fingers folding and the glue sticks sticking!

Perfect for the pre-schoolers!

This book was an excellent find. I had no idea what to expect except what the title suggested. In it there are 100 beautiful and tastefully designed papers to tear out (easily) and make paper chains, snowflakes, woven hearts, folded stars, angels (which little Miss loves!), hanging decorations and folded stars. There are even options to extend some items and make a large star or even a double-folded star. Great! 

There are instructions inside the cover to guide the child and reader through the activity as needed and what I love most about the book is that there are lots of opportunities to use any cut-offs or leftover scraps of paper and make other festive things to your hearts content. Miss 3 enjoyed making some collage baubles and hanging them around the home. I think anything really with glue and paper and she's happy though! 

Here are a few decorations which they have started on and hung around the home this week. 

Miss 3 busy at work. Angels and woven hearts.

Master 4's prep for freestyle decorations...

Miss 3's freestyle for Mum, Dad and baby

Miss 3 and Master 4 bedroom doors

Everyone needs a spot for their Angel at the
Angels hanging up high 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

"Don't you think daisies are the friendliest flower?"

Parenting is by far and away the most challenging job I've ever had (and continues to be). The past year in particular has been the toughest in my life to date. The toughest, most challenging and the most rewarding and I'm so thankful for the experience

At school pickup time for my son yesterday, there was a produce table selling various herbs and a big bunch of daisies for $2. My son, after shaking his teacher's hand goodbye, went past the table and picked up the flowers.

"Mum, Mum can we get these?!!!"  asking excitedly
"Sure, no problem, let's get some money from the car" 

Takes me back to my favourite movie of all
times "You've Got Mail" 

I realised at the car that all my money had been put into the play cash register at home by my daughter. He was insistent that we give the $2 today. So I continued the search. Thankfully, I found a loose coin amongst all those other things that live in the bottom of my Mary Poppins handbag, I handed it over and watched him run speedily back down to his teacher holding the flowers upright lest they get damaged. 

"Here's the money for the flowers!!!" and proudly, (loudly) and responsibly hands the coin over.

It was the sweetest sight to see. My eyes welled up. He was so happy. I was so happy. He was so delighted with his purchase. He tells me he bought them for him and his little brother to share. And here they are on our porch in an appropriate jug. This was one of those moments to savour. A simple everyday gesture that made forget the stresses around me and smile. A big broad smile.

And there was something for me too. I found an hand made envelope in his back-pack.

"What's this ?" I asked him. 

"Oh, that's for you Mum, I forgot to say good-bye to you today, so I wrote you a note". 

This is the first note he's written to me and I wanted to share it because it Made My Day.

It's the little things that mean the most.

Title quote taken from "You've Got Mail"

Friday, 14 November 2014

Woolworths Super Animals, card collecting fun!

Woolworths has begun the next card collecting activity. This time it's the Super Animals. The last two times we just collected the cards, read and talked about them together, looked at the interesting animals, played with them and kept them in a tin box. This time the children are a little more interested. As Master 4 is reading, he wants to read more, he wants to know more and is super interested in these Super Animals!

Today at school drop off, a friend had brought his collecting album in. Master 4 and he immediately went into conversation about his album discussing which cards they each had. When I left after hugs and kisses for younger sister, he almost didn't break to say good-bye which is most out of character.

Judging his interest level I bought two albums later that morning. At pick up time I gave them to the children in the car to look at and they started putting the cards immediately. Every so often I'd hear my son call out "Mum, did you know....?!" He is enjoying them. Miss 3 also, but in a different way. She found a strawberry looking frog which has caught her eye.

I hadn't really had a thorough look at the folders until they had started working with them, but they are jam packed full of interesting facts, dot to dots, mazes and activities to do. Perfect for them right now. Over on the Woolworths Super Animals page, there is information about how you can earn a free ticket to Taronga Zoo Sydney or Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo. I think that's what we'll be aiming for! How about you? 

Here they are at work

Jammed packed full of activity! 
Miss 3 looking for shoes

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Ling in salsa verde, an adapted Ferran Adria recipe

The children and I call this 'brain food' because of the fish factor and we enjoy it 1-2 times a week.

I'm not sure what exactly it is they love about it but I love it because it is so quick and simple to make and they are guaranteed to eat it all up!

Ingredients for 3 hungry children
400g fresh ling fillets (you can use any white fish including shellfish)
1 pinches salt
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped (I omit this for the children)
1 1/2 tablespoons flour 
500ml water

1 Slice fillets into 2cm strips across the fillet. Set aside
2 To make salsa verde, first finely chop the garlic
3 Place a large pan over a low heat, then pour in the oil. Add the garlic and fry it gently for 1-2 minutes until softened but not browned
4 Finely chop the parsley
5 Stir the flour into the oil and garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Add half the chopped parsley 
6 Pour in the water
7 Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly
8 Place the fish in the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes, until the flesh flakes easily
9 Season the sauce with salt then scatter with the rest of the parsely
10 lift the flesh onto serving plates, then spoon over the salsa verde.

Serve with boiled sliced 'cream delight' potatoes, creamy mashed potato, chunks of bread and butter, cous cous... a side salad would be great alongside this for adults and a lovely glass of cold white wine. Enjoy!

Original recipe 'Whiting in salsa verde' by Ferran Adria, The Family Meal

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