Sunday, 21 December 2014

Last Sunday in Advent

Today marks the fourth and final Sunday in Advent.

We lit the last candle in our Advent wreath and began our night
time prayers.

My husband read The Christmas Story for the children, as they
arranged the figurines.

The scent from our Christmas tree fills our home.

Christmas is near.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Trash or Treasure

As a child, I used to rearrange my bedroom frequently. I don't know how I managed to move the heavy items, but I did. Mum never stopped me from doing this 'necessary' work, and she'd always survey the changes and improvements. I seemed to crave change and the need to move things to see if I could get a better use of space and creative flow. I loved (and still do) the freshness of a newly arranged room, complete with clean sheets. It brings a distinct lightness in the air for me.

Whilst rearranging and cleaning was going on, I would end up with a collection of what became my 'Trash or Treasure' which I would offer to my younger sisters, much to their delight.

Garage Sales are a perfect opportunity to have a poke around in the hope of finding some treasure. Last Saturday my husband picked up an extensive rubber collection for just $2. Definite treasure! I had noticed a few of these rubbers in Daiso a few weeks ago and didn't think much of them, but with a collection this large there are lots of ways you could work with them.

Part of the collection

For example
- language building skills (talking about what they see i.e. colours, shapes, food groups)
- sorting (fruit, vegetables, sweet, savoury, edible, non-edible)
- arranging in biggest to smallest (size, numbers)
- creating and following a shopping list (reading and writing)
- playing shops (communication, vocabulary, pretend play, grace & courtesy)
- counting (numbers, grouping)
- grouping (vocabulary)
- letterwork, "I spy"

Sorting by cutlery, fruit, drinks, noodles

What would you like, Mum?
Here you are!

As the saying goes "one man's trash is another man's treasure"!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Spontaneous dates

Recently my husband and I enjoyed a spontaneous lunch date at Hanoi Quan, a newish Vietnamese restaurant in the inner south west, while the children visited Grandma, Grandfather and their aunties and uncles who live nearby.

Tea for two

My husband is much more familiar with Vietnamese cuisine than I am; he introduced me to the light and fresh taste of Vietnam the summer leading up to our first son's birth, almost five years ago now. 

Typical condiments as part of the table setting,
looking very attractive and decorative 

He went out for Mass one hot Sunday morning and returned home with a delicious Vietnamese salad dish "Bún". Light yet very filling vermicelli rice noodles, fresh Vietnamese mint, bean sprouts, cucumber, carrot, topped with sliced hot deep fried spring rolls (my favourite part). It came with a thin sweet chilli sauce served on the side, to add according to your taste. We enjoyed this dish a number of Sundays leading up to our sons arrival and then when we went to enjoy it again, a year or so later only to find the restaurant was no longer there. We tried others, but it was not the same. Eventually we gave up.


Well, we thought we had given up. But then we found Hanoi Quan. When we saw "Bún" on the menu at Hanoi Quan, without question we ordered it. 

My husband had a variation with prawn on a cane stick in lieu of the spring rolls. It was delicious. The serving size was large, the spring rolls were perfectly deep fried and crispy, and together with the sauce and noodles it was just like five years ago - only better.
With three very busy little ones now, it's almost impossible to get time alone during daylight hours so our spontaneous date a few weeks ago was just what we needed.

"Bún" with prawns on an cane sugar

It goes without saying we love being with the children but regular dates are just so important for a healthy and happy relationship. Like any couple, we definitely need to be alone together sometimes to think and rejuvenate together, in order for our relationship to grow as well. Hanoi Quan was the perfect oasis in our busy lives - we certainly left feeling happy, full, reenergised and inspired.

Needless to say our next date has been booked in ahead for my husbands birthday just before Christmas. No prizes for guessing where we'll be going!

Coconut water, a must have

What do you do to develop your relationship with your spouse when you're busy running a family? I'd be interested to hear your ideas.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

After the storm

Today we had three 'severe' storms pass over our home. Lots of lightning, tremendous thunder, a pelting down of hail (on a 30 degree summer's day) and of course, lots of rain. 

I love the rain. I especially love the garden after the rain. The smell of damp soil, mulch and grass, the fresh, cool air to breathe in, walking in bare feet through water puddles on the deck and the crunch of feel of the spiky grass underfoot in the backyard.

Here's a look around the garden after the final storm for the day.

Our little red wagon
Freshly fallen gum leaves, still vibrant

Literally buckets of water
Escallonias, mint, brachyscome and a vibrant coloured daisy

Crepe murtle

I love the colours of this gum tree after the rain.
The last of the three storms passing

Master 4's building site was completely flooded
The hydrangeas have begun flowering again in time for Christmas

Delicate seaside daisies enjoying the rain

The children's watering cans ready for tomorrow

New growth on the magnolia 
The jacaranda and the gumtrees

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Happy Feast of St Nicholas!

Today we celebrated the feast of St Nicholas. As the focus of our Christmas celebration is not the commercialised "Santa Claus", this is a great date for the children to learn about St Nicholas and the celebrate and to give the children a little gift during Advent. Traditionally, chocolate gold coins are ideal to give, but this year I wasn't organised and chose something from their Christmas presents which I had wrapped last night.

We are a big fan of the Brother Francis colouring books and DVDs. This morning I downloaded a free printable from the Herald Store for the children to colour in during the day and we read the St Nicholas story this evening to the children at prayer time.

Here is the day in photos.

Miss 3 colouring-in

The altar is set by the children before
prayers begin
The new animal cards from Woolworths also have a place... they
are God's creatures after all.

The sun having gone down on Saturday, Sunday "begins",
according to the Hebrew reckoning which we follow, and
the second candle in our Advent wreath is lit symbolising that
the second week in Advent has begun.

Our Nativity scene: only Mary, Joseph, the
donkey, the ox and the Angel are present.
Awaiting the arrival of the newborn King.
Reading the prayer from the Feast of St Nicholas from the
Monastic Diurnal.

The story of St Nicholas

St Nicholas's Day gifts
Lego for Master 4

A collection of 8 Curious George stories for Miss 3

And a drum for our little drummer boy

From our home to yours, a very happy Feast of St Nicholas to you!

Friday, 5 December 2014

A dog for Christmas

For a number months now our youngest has been cruising around the couches, chairs, beds, baths, drawers, low benches and the like. On each occasion he has been gaining speed and confidence and loving it. Keeping up with his older siblings is a big driver and then just last week he took off all by himself and has been thriving. He's so very satisfied with himself and we are so overjoyed for him.

Here are a few of his first steps from last week.

Slow and steady

Balancing takes practice

Holding onto an item can aid in the early stages of walking

For Christmas, we've decided to give him a dog to take him on his walks. This particular pull along dog by Plan Toys, a brand I love, is named 'Happy Puppy'. Happy Puppy for a very happy boy!

Our new dog

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