Monthly Archives: December 2009

Unplugged: Annual Leave


I’m taking annual leave from online activities (blogging, facebook & twitter) for a couple of weeks.  I think it’s really important that I take this time for myself and for my family.  I know many other bloggers take a little time off in secret, and schedule posts to go live without them needing to actually do anything – but that’s not for me.  When my husband takes holidays I want him to switch off from work completely.  It’s only fair that I switch off (literally!) for two weeks too.

I know what will happen.  My stats will plummet.  My technorati ranking will take a dive.  I could drop off the Top 100 list.  I might even lose readers and followers and fans.  But I’m ok with all of those things, because love you though I do… my family come first.  Long before I was SquiggleMum, I was just Mummy.

I hope you’ll still be around when I plug back in on the 10th January.  Until then live well, laugh often and love much.

Blessings, Cath.

Christmas Around the World

One of the best things about becoming a blogger has been the friendships I have made along the way.  Most of these friendships have been here on home soil, but I have also made wonderful friends overseas.  At Christmas, especially, the world doesn’t seem like such a big place.  For all our differences in climate and culture, at our heart we are all mothers who want the best for our kids, and are deeply grateful for the blessings in our lives.  Here is quick round up of what Christmas is like for different mummy and mommy bloggers around the world.  (Plus my answers last, for those interested in what Christmas is like in Australia!)

Meet Sarah Mae from Like A Warm Cup Of Coffee


  1. Which country do you live in? USA
  2. What is the current temperature? Really cold…and windy…and snowy…
  3. How do you prepare for Christmas? We anticipate Christ’s return – looking for Him in the sky (my babes are 10 months, 2, and 4), talking about Him – His birth, why He came to earth, and then we get excited about His returning one day.  Oh, and cookies…and a Christmas tree…
  4. What will you eat on Christmas Day? Yummy cheesy potatoes and ham.  We are still trying to come up with a great breakfast tradition – maybe donuts or a birthday cake.
  5. What do you hope for at Christmas? Fun and filled spirits…a Jesus awakening in our hearts.  Lots of joy!

Meet Leonny from Our Everyday Things


  1. Which country do you live in? Singapore
  2. What is the current temperature? Between 27 degrees – 32 degrees C (The closest Singapore gets to “snow” is the foam in this pic!!)
  3. How do you prepare for Christmas? We share more Christmas Bible stories with the kids!
  4. What will you eat on Christmas Day? We’ll most likely spend time with friends, at a friend’s home, where each family brings a dish or two to share with everyone else (our families are all in Indonesia, so we spend Christmas with friends, who sort of become our ‘family’ here in Singapore)
  5. What do you hope for at Christmas? I hope to learn to be more thankful about everything, and to strive and be blessing to others!

Meet Jan Mary from Jan Mary: Welcome to my World


  1. Which country do you live in? Northern Ireland
  2. What is the current temperature? Day time – 6 degrees C, Night time – 2 degrees C. Only a little snow so far – and a few icy mornings. Any snow we get never lasts too long. (Pic is the first snow of the season)
  3. How do you prepare for Christmas? Blogging daily (yes – I am mad, but this is the 3rd year I have blogged daily about Christmas, and I have a love/hate relationship with my blog during this time!)  I love to decorate our home.  We try to focus on the Christian aspects of Christmas, but Santa still visits.  I have a collection of Nativity sets, which I try to add to each year. I am having a Nativity Set Blogging Carnival on 21 December, and I hope you can join me. There will be prizes! I don’t bake much – my Mum is too good!!
  4. What will you eat on Christmas Day? Our main meal will be served at 3pm.  Roast Turkey, Ham, Stuffing, Gravy, Potatoes, Carrots, Brussell Sprouts, Cranberry Sauce and cocktail sausages. Dessert – Christmas Pudding (only my Mum and my husband will eat this) and fruit salad for the rest of us.
  5. What do you hope for at Christmas? Peace for all in Northern Ireland, and that all will truly know Jesus, the reason for this Season.

Meet Michelle from What’s Cooking Blog


  1. Which country do you live in? USA
  2. What is the current temperature? 60 degrees, Fahrenheit (cloudy with scattered showers, too)
  3. How do you prepare for Christmas? I am Jewish, so we spend most of our holiday energy on Hanukkah instead of Christmas. But, since my husband isn’t Jewish, we decorate the house with wintery decorations and sometimes even have a tree. Even though he calls it a Christmas tree, I sometimes call it a Hanukkah Bush! This year, we have a small one, since we will be away during the holiday.
  4. What do you eat for Hanukkah? We enjoy Potato Latkes, sometimes also called Potato Pancakes. They are made from finely shredded potato, onion, a teensy bit of flour and salt, and then fried in oil. If done right, they are super crispy and totally delicious! Other Jewish families also make homemade donut holes. Both of these foods are fried in oil, because oil is sacred during Hanukkah.
  5. What do you hope for at this time of year? During the holiday season, I always wish peace and happiness to everyone. With the economy and environment going down the tubes, it is a good time to remember that everyone can do something to help, even if it is just one tiny act of kindness. If everyone started to take little steps to improve our world, we would be on the road to recovery so much faster, and our children’s future would be so much brighter.

And here are my answers!


  1. Which country do you live in? Queensland, Australia
  2. What is the current temperature? hot, humid and about 30 degrees C
  3. How do you prepare for Christmas? We start preparing on the 1 December when we put up our gorgeous big tree, and then we count down the sleeps with Christmas craft activities, baking, nativity scenes, stories and lots of singing carols.  We always go to a carols by candlelight service in the park too.
  4. What will you eat on Christmas Day? It’s way too hot for a roast, so we have salads, cold seafood, sometimes a bbq whole fish, fresh fruit and plenty of cold drinks.
  5. What do you hope for at Christmas? I hope for a restoring of people’s priorities, a peace in people’s hearts and for Christ to be central to Christmas.  I also hope for a sleep in on Boxing Day.  And maybe a digital SLR…?!

If anyone else would like to join in, please introduce yourself, share where you’re from and answer the same five questions as a comment below…

  • Which country do you live in?  USA
  • What is the current temperature?  60 degrees, Fahrenheit (cloudy with scattered showers, too)
  • How do you prepare for Christmas?  I am Jewish, so we spend most of our holiday energy on Hanukkah instead of Christmas.  But, since my husband isn’t Jewish, we decorate the house with wintery decorations and sometimes even have a tree.  Even though he calls it a Christmas tree, I sometimes call it a Hanukkah Bush :-)  This year, we have a small one, since we will be away during the holiday.
  • What will you eat on Christmas Day?  Christmas isn’t a special day for us, food-wise, since we are Jewish.  When I was a child, sometimes we would go out for Chinese food on Christmas, since that was the only type of restaurant open on that day!  But for Hanukkah, we enjoy Potato Latkes, sometimes also called Potato Pancakes.  They are made from finely shredded potato, onion, a teensy bit of flour and salt, and then fried in oil.  If done right, they are super crispy and totally delicious!  Other Jewish families also make homemade donut holes.  Both of these foods are fried in oil, because oil is sacred during Hanukkah.
  • What do you hope for at Christmas time?  During the holiday season, I always wish peace and happiness to everyone.  With the economy and environment going down the tubes, it is a good time to remember that everyone can do something to help, even if it is just one tiny act of kindness.  If everyone started to take little steps to improve our world, we would be on the road to recovery so much faster, and our children’s future would be so much brighter.

Bright Star Giveaway

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

Its loveliness increases; it shall never

Pass into nothingness…” (John Keats)

As a lit lover how could I go past a movie about one of the greatest romantic poets of all time?!  If you haven’t heard about it yet, here is the preview for the film Bright Star, plus a few other gorgeous features you might like to check out!  (If it doesn’t load below, please try refreshing your browser…)

This is not a film about the tragic death of John Keats at the age of 25, but rather the story of the love that brought him to life.  Told through the eyes of Fanny Brawne (played superbly by Aussie actress Abbie Cornish), Bright Star is a stunning period piece.  The script is sublime, and the breathtakingly beautiful garden scenes directed by Jane Campion (The Piano) had me swooning.  Literary buffs and romantics alike will not want to miss this film.

Bright Star opens in cinemas on Boxing Day, but thanks to Hopscotch Films I was able to see a pre-screening – and I also have 5 double passes to give away!  In order to get your tickets to you before Christmas I’m making this a first in wins comp.  The first five people to comment below finishing the sentence ROMANCE IS… will win (Aussies only).  Here’s my answer:

ROMANCE IS… a blanket, a quiet spot and a picnic for two.  Oh, and my hubby of course!

PS – if you won tickets to my last movie giveaway (The Boys Are Back) please let someone else have a turn. xx

Gifts that Give

Did you catch The 7pm Project last night?  They ran a story on giving gifts like goats instead of spending billions of dollars on, well, stuff.

I blogged about gifts of Compassion a couple of months ago but I’m more than happy to mention them again because they are a charity and ministry I truly believe in.  I also truly believe most of us have more stuff than we could possibly need, while others have barely the necessities.  If you are still after a few last minute gifts for hard-to-buy-for rellies, try one of these ideas.  Put a Compassion card with a small present for a gift that gives twice.  A little something for your relative or friend, and something for someone in true need as well.  Isn’t that a win-win situation?


Put together an eggy breakfast pack.  Try a ceramic egg crate, a whisk, egg cups and cloth napkins for a sweet and useful gift.  Attach your Compassion card for a chicken (or chickens) for a family in need.


Give a gorgeous fruit basket full of this season’s best produce.  Wrap up with a large sheet of clear cellophane and tie with a huge ribbon.  Alternatively, buy some herb seedlings and plant them in a cute kitchen planter box.  Attach a Compassion card for vegetable seeds to either gift.


For a guy who loves his wheels why not give the current UBD or Referdex (or whatever it is called in your state)!  Or, you could give a car care kit with waterless wash, chamois, etc in a bucket.  Attach the Compassion card for a taxi licence to your gift.  Done.


Stationery always makes a fabulous gift because it is useful and needs replacing often!  Kikki-k is a favourite of mine, but there are plenty of other wonderful Aussie designers you can buy from online too.  Attach a Compassion card for educational supplies that will mean a child can attend school.  Education is a true gift indeed.

There are plenty of other gifts, including goats, available on Compassion’s site.

Toilet Roll Nativity

Making the toilet roll nativity scene has become somewhat of a tradition in our house.  This is the fourth Christmas with children in our home and the fourth rendition of the loo roll nativity!


The first year my daughter was still very young, so I just made Mary and Joseph and a little manger for baby Jesus.  She was at the crawling and chomping stage so the characters were pretty well trashed by the time Christmas was over.  The second year we made the characters day by day and added the shepherds and wise men.  Last year we spent a whole week making the scene and we suspended silvery angels above the stable too!  But this year is the first year my daughter has really wanted to take over help.  She wanted to do the glue “all by my own” and draw the faces.  She picked the fabric for every character and was quite insistent about some of her choices.

I love that at three she is already so familiar with the story of the first Christmas.  I put the pile of toilet rolls in front of her and she was able to pull out how many we needed.  “We need Mary and Joseph.  We need three wise men.  We need some shepherds.  And some angels Mummy.  A lot of angels (I talked her back down to two…)  We need to have a manger with some hay for baby Jesus.  And a donkey.  We sure need a donkey.”

A donkey?!  She’s right of course.  They sure needed that donkey.  Can’t wait to see what she wants to add next year.


A friend recently asked me why we make it again every year, rather than just keep it and reuse it.  I think the process is more important than the product here.  This is not a pristine display piece.  One day I might buy a beautiful set (like the gorgeous Willow Tree one) but for now I love that my kids can make the story, retell the story, play with the story and interact with the characters in their own way.  They don’t have to be precious with it, and won’t be told not to touch.  The first Christmas was, and still is, for everyone.

Luke 2:10

The angel said to them,

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news

of great joy that will be for all the people…”

PS – thanks to the friend who first showed me a toilet roll nativity she made with her own daughter long before I was a mother.

Welcome visitors!! Please stay and have a look around...

Welcome visitors!!

Let It Go (Parenting Aus)


Christmas is just over a week away and I’m now officially less organised than I thought I was.  I’ve bought cards, and stamps, but not combined the two and posted them yet.  I’ve bought most gifts, though a few are still outstanding and none of them are wrapped.  And there’s still a lot of cooking and decorating and organising to do for Christmas Day.  I need to remind myself that I can’t do everything, and some things I just have to let go of.

…As the silly season ramps up into overdrive, my advice for the sake of your children’s happiness and your sanity is to just let it go. Let go of your image of a perfect Christmas and simply aim for a happy day. Forget about that image you saw in a magazine or movie with the immaculate table setting, the wonderfully wrapped gifts, the perfectly presented food and the sweet smiling (clean) children. Pick one goal for yourself and focus on that instead. And have yourself a merry little Christmas…

Head over to Parenting Australia if you’d like to read all of this article, and feel free to comment here or there.  Will you get everything done on your Christmas to-do list, or are there things you’ll need to just let go of?


A Little Glamour

Over at Childhood101 this week Christie is running the Everyday Glamour Challenge, encouraging us as mums to make a little time for ourselves.  She has shared thoughts on hair, makeup, jewellery, body image and more.


I’ve found that most mums fall into one of three categories when it comes to glamour:

#1.  A little glamour a lot of the time.

#2.  A lot of glamour a little of the time.

#3.  What’s glamour?!

Many of my mum-friends are #2.  They go all out for the odd special occasion or date night here and there, and go au natural the rest of the time.  It seems to work for them, but I’m more a #1.  I like a little glamour most of the time!  Sure, if the kids and I are staying home for the day cleaning, crafting and cooking I whip my unkempt curls into a bun and that’s about where I leave it.  But most days I make a little effort – not for everyone else so much as for myself.  Here’s my everyday glamour rundown:

  • You won’t catch me with a full face of makeup (unless I’m in a bridal party), but in under 3 mins I can cover a few spots with concealer, brush on some translucent powder, add a flick of mascara and a slick of gloss.  If holding a child at the time it takes an extra 30 seconds.
  • As a girl I loved ribbons and clips.  Nothing much has changed, and I still often add them to my ponies, buns and twists for a touch of colour or sparkle.  I rarely straighten my hair midweek, but I often do for the weekend and make sure I get a couple of days out of it!
  • I love funky jewellery, though it’s hard to manage with young kids.  My earring collection has been abandoned until my son can learn what “gentle” means, so my bangles are getting a workout instead.
  • The vast majority of my shoes are flats, and I have a soft spot for cute ballet flats.  I have a patent leather bone coloured pair that go with everything and get worn about every second day.
  • When it comes to clothes I love pairing pretty tops with denim bottoms.  I also love singlet tops as long as they aren’t too tight around the middle!  I’m a bargain hunter and don’t spend a lot on clothes, but I’m always on the lookout for things that fit well and make me feel nice.
  • For special occasions… I paint my nails!!  My favourite colour is a gorgeous red Chanel polish (thanks Sis!)

Christie asked us to add our own everyday glamour tip.  As a glasses wearer I find I always have to factor my specs into my outfit.  I have two pairs in completely different colours (plum & green) so that I can mix and match with my clothes!  I always need mascara under the lenses or my eyes get a little lost, and because of the colour in the frames I go easy on the lips.  No popping red lipstick statement if you’re wearing green glasses!!  I love being able to choose between frames to suit my mood and my outfit.


What kind of mum are you?  Do you like a little glamour a lot of the time, or a lot of glamour a little of the time?!  Or have you completely given up on glamour?  (If so, head over to Christie’s and get reading…)

Nativity Felt Board

felt_nativity_collI just love being able to get out this fabulous felt board set each Christmas.  My sister-in-law made it for my kids a couple of years ago.  The board is a simple mdf square, and the background felt is attached with velcro dots.  All of the characters are cut from craft felt.  (If fiddling with felt pieces is not for you, check out my friend Narelle‘s suggestion for making nativity felt board characters using printables.)

There are many, many Christmas carols that tell the story of Jesus’ birth, so we often sing as we play.  This is a very natural way for children to learn, and an excellent way of reinforcing the story.  You don’t have to be a brilliant vocalist – just have a go!  If you’re really not confident though stick a CD on in the background.

My daughter’s favourite song to sing with the felt board is Colin Buchanan’s “On That Very First Christmas” (from the album King of Christmas which you can purchase here for $19.95 or at any Christian bookstore).  It’s an upbeat, toddler-friendly song with lots of repetition and an easy tune.

Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem, Bethlehem, Bethlehem,

Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem, On that very first Christmas.

Baby Jesus born that night, born that night, born that night,

Baby Jesus born that night, on that very first Christmas.

Wise men come to worship him…

Shepherds told that the king is born…

Angels singing glory to God…


Have carols started on high rotation in your house yet?  What songs do your kids know that tell the story of the first Christmas?

Little Kids, Big Words

I think it’s so important that we choose appropriate books for our kids.  Appropriate in terms of content, length, language and more.  But I also believe it’s important to stretch our kids a little.  It’s easy to fall into the trap of only buying and borrowing “toddler” books right up until formal schooling starts!  Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying we should read novels to young children.  Eek!  But I am saying that we need to make sure our kids are increasingly exposed to stories with quality sentence structure and broader vocabulary as they grow.

The easiest way to do this is to go with an area of interest for your child.  As they get older they will do this naturally.  Regular SquiggleMum readers will know that I’m a bird nerd, and my kids are too.  So this week my three year old borrowed two wonderful picturebooks from the library about birds.


Birds Build Nests (written by Yvonne Winer and illustrated by Tony Oliver)

King of the Birds (written and illustrated by Helen Ward)

Both contain language which is a bit more of a stretch for my daughter, but she has just loved them.  Birds Build Nests is written in verse, with each stanza describing a different type of nest.  In this book she has come across words such as tranquil, rookeries, abandoned, silhouetted, etched, fledgelings, tailors, intricate, russett, delicate, craggy, predators, secure, camouflaged, tundra and more!  These aren’t words a toddler typically encounters, but my daughter coped with them because they are well supported by the illustrations, and they relate to an area of personal interest to her.  In our (several) readings of this book we have talked about many of these new words, though I did not stop and explain each new word to her as we read unless she particularly asked.


King of the Birds is a retelling of an old folktale which we have read over, and over again.  It reads beautifully, and while some words have been new again for my daughter she has understood remarkably well.  Because the topic is of special interest to her she has coped with sentences like: “The struggling broad-bellied birds, the fluttering finches and sparrows, the lazy flap of gulls and slim-winged sea crossers, the busy wings of auks and the invisible beats of hummingbirds all rose higher… and higher, a column of birds circling up to the sky.


And on top of all this rich language, both books include identification guides at the end of the text.  My daughter and I have pored over these pages – looking up names of birds unfamiliar to us, comparing eggs, finding Australian birds and learning about habits of different species.  Of course I have not read these pages in their entirety to my daughter – she’s only 3!  But they have prompted wonderful conversations and I have been able to pick out facts to share with her.

What piques your child’s interest?  Is it insects?  Trucks?  Space?  Dinosaurs?  Dolphins?  Use their interest area as an opportunity to take them further with language.  And yes, that might mean you need to learn a thing or two about velociraptors or black holes or ornithology…

Happy reading!!

Three Easy Wreaths

Nothing acknowledges that you are embracing Christmas quite like a wreath on the front door.  It says, “We’re happy it’s Christmas and we’re happy you’re here too!”  Have you got one on your door yet?  If not, here are three super easy wreaths you can make with your toddler, all using paper plates as an inexpensive base.


For each of the wreaths, start with a plain paper plate.  Cut into the centre of the plate and remove the inner circle.  How much of each wreath your child will be able to do independently will vary.  As a rough guide though:

  • One year olds+ can stick paper onto blobs of glue.
  • Two year olds+ can spread glue and stick on precut paper.
  • Three year olds+ can do some cutting, glue independently and have their own ideas on how to approach tasks.

You might like to have a go at one of these easy wreaths…

1.  Hand wreath.  Trace around your child’s hand onto Christmas wrapping paper, or coloured paper.  Fold the paper over so that you can cut out several at the same time.  Paste the hands onto the wreath overlapping slightly.  Attach hanging ribbon.  Alternatively you could paint little hands and do lovely handprints, then cut out when dry – if you don’t mind mess!  (These three hand wreaths were made by toddlers aged 14mths, 18mths and 3 – with varying degrees of adult support.)


2.  Leaf wreath.  Inspired by Caro’s leaf hunt we searched the backyard for interesting leaves and collected a fantastic array of green, yellow, red and purple leaves.  Using PVA glue we attached these to our paper plate ring.  To add some Christmas sparkle we also glued on sequins and attached some jingly bells.  This wreath turned out so well and is currently on our front door!


3.  Ribbon wrapped wreath.  This was one probably the most challenging for us.  It was definitely a team effort as I helped my three year old to wind the ribbons round and around, through the centre of the ring, without getting tangled up!  She got frustrated at times, but we persisted and she got the hang of it.  We used ribbon scraps from our giftwrapping box, and secured them at the back of the paper plate ring with sticky tape.


Do you have any other suggestions for wreaths toddlers can make?  Leave a comment below, or blog your ideas and I’ll link you up here!

Amanda has another paper plate idea.