Monthly Archives: December 2010

Happy Christmas from SquiggleMum

A very happy Christmas to all of my readers!  May you and your families be blessed at this special time of year.  On Christmas Day, make sure you look your kids right in the eye and tell them that you love them, and that you are so glad they are yours.  There is no greater gift you can give your children than unconditional love.

Don’t forget that you too are loved unconditionally – by the One who started all this Christmas stuff in the first place.

Thank you all for your comments, emails, tweets, and most of all friendship in 2010.  Enjoy this socialmedia-savvy retelling of the Nativity Story…

With blessings,

Cath / SquiggleMum xx

The Night Before Christmas

We are always busy, busy on Christmas Day.  Two excited kids will rush to stockings at dawn, we’ll be off to church at 7am where I’ll be singing, and then we’ll be sharing with friends and family all day.  Lots of presents to give, and food to eat, and love to share.

But Christmas Eve is our special time.  Our time for the four of us to just be a family together.

  • We wrap the last of the presents.
  • We read the Christmas Story together.
  • The kids put out their stockings.
  • We turn the house lights off and sit in front of the twinkling tree.
  • We pray for others – especially for less fortunate families in Australia, for children living in poverty, and for all those who will be working on Christmas Day.
  • We get the kids into bed early!  They need a good night’s sleep before the big day.

Then hubby and I get time to ourselves.  There are always carols by candlelight* on tv, so while we listen we wrap the kids’ presents, and prepare food for the next day.  In the “calm before the storm” we take a moment to be grateful for all the blessings in our lives.

How do you spend Christmas Eve?

(* In Australia, Christmas is in our mid-summer. We have a tradition of big-scale, outdoor Christmas concerts where everyone sits on blankets with candles to sing carols together.  The biggest of these are televised nationally and include performances by Australia’s finest entertainers.)

Playing With Recipes

My independent Miss 4 loves to make up her own recipes in the kitchen.  She has helped me with basic baking for most of her little life, so she has some idea of what a cake needs, and how to go about it.  Today I baked gingerbread shapes ready for Christmas, while my daughter made her own cakes from scratch.

First she wrote out her recipe.  Not a bad effort!!  I try not to do too much “teaching” with her at home. She’ll have plenty of that at school next year.  I simply encourage her to write down any sounds she can hear.  She did ask me how to write a “shh” sound, but the rest she did independently. Oh, and she didn’t have flour in her list.  I suggested adding that might be a good idea!!

Next we read her recipe together and got out the ingredients she needed.  I put the sugar, water, egg, flour and sprinkles into small bowls, in order of her recipe.  She was a tad excited about starting.  (I just love this pic…)

She probably spent an hour making her little cakes, carefully adding a spoonful of this and a spoonful of that. She cracked the egg into the mix herself, and added more wet or dry ingredients to get the consistency right.  SO much learning going on in this play!

She divided the mixture up into 4 muffin pans, then it was into a medium oven for – well, we didn’t really know how long! They looked ready at about 15mins.

Since I was icing the gingerbread shapes anyway, I put a twirl of icing on top of her finished cakes.  What a treat to eat your own creation for afternoon tea!  And how did they taste?  Not too bad actually.  A bit like damper.  With icing.

Do you let your kids “loose” in the kitchen?

Dear Jimmy Giggle

Dear Jimmy Giggle,

We loved meeting up with you when you came to visit Brisbane!!  Thank you for spending some time with us before the signing, and for welcoming us so warmly.

We’re glad you liked the Christmas card we made for you and Hoot. Thanks for taking the time to let us know on facebook (ABC for Kids – for Parents page) that Hoot enjoyed our special Christmas bird seed mix too!

We liked playing with you and seeing your funny button shoes.  (“Jimmy Shoos”?!!)  You made us laugh!  Is that why you are called Jimmy Giggle?

There was a very, very big line of kids and mums (and a few dads) waiting to see you.  We know that you stayed for a l-o-n-g time so that no one missed out.  You must really like kids, which is cool – because kids really like you.

We hope you and Hoot have a very happy Christmas!!  See you on ABC Kids

Love from SquiggleMum and Kids.

Christmas Giveaway 3 – ABC Kids Christmas CD

With only two weeks to go, it’s really

  • looking like Christmas
  • sounding like Christmas
  • and feeling like Christmas here!

Our wreath welcomes visitors.

We’re counting down with our Advent Calendar (thanks Kelly!)

The kids have been adding to their toilet roll nativity.

The tree is sparkling.

Paper chains hang from the ceiling.

And decorations are scattered through our home.

For us, it wouldn’t be Christmas without songs!

This year we are loving the Christmas for Kids album from ABC Kids.  I am always on the hunt for CDs that include Aussie carols and Aussie accents.  We have such a unique Christmas down under, and often the songs about wintery snow are meaningless to kids here.  The ABC Christmas for Kids album includes tracks such as Six White Boomers (my childhood favourite), Aussie Jingle Bells, and Christmas Where The Gumtrees Grow.

Thanks to my friends at Roadshow and the ABC I have FOUR copies of Christmas for Kids to give away just in time for Christmas.  If you’d like to win a copy, leave a comment sharing your favourite childhood Christmas song. Aussie residents only please, one entry per person, winners drawn randomly Friday 17 Dec, 6pm Qld time.

You can also purchase Christmas for Kids from ABC Online for $19.99 or from ABC Shops.

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This competition has now closed. Congrats to the 4 random winners who have been notified by email. Happy Christmas!!

Review: Smart Trike A Smart Choice

This post is sponsored by The Mother Media

I don’t buy a lot of toys for the kids.  For inside play I love wooden toys and creative materials.  Outside we have a few trucks and some digging materials, but not many “toys” as such.  I’d prefer the kids dig a hole or climb a tree!  When we visit little friends for play dates though I have to admit that my son does love to ride their bikes.  So when Smart-Trike offered to send me their top of the line, 4-in-1-Recliner… I couldn’t say no.

Having N-E-V-E-R purchased a trike or bike of any description for the kids before, I wasn’t really sure what I’d think about the Smart-Trike Recliner.  Fortunately when we* took it out of the box and put it together, there was less plastic than I imagined and quite a number of optional parts which you can add or remove to suit.  (I prefer the trike without most of the extras, but I know many other mums will adore those features!)

So here is what I found I liked about the Smart-Trike Recliner:

  • It’s really a cross between a bike and a pram.  It has lots of pram like features, including a foot brake, reclining ability, durable fabric, and rain cover.  Plus little ones can burn some energy pumping those pedals!
  • It grows with your child.  This trike isn’t the cheapest on the market, but if you want one trike that will go the distance this is a worthwhile investment.  It reclines for bubs as young as 6mths, and adjusts to accommodate older bubs and toddlers up to age 3.
  • The handle works.  I could steer my son with one hand and hold onto my daughter at the same time.  And I love that the handle comes off completely when the boy no longer needs help to steer straight.
  • It seems well made, and the design well thought out.  It’s won a stack of awards.
  • It’s pretty snazzy.  Even SquiggleDad is happy to be pushing it around.
  • It makes my son smile, and gets us all out in the great outdoors together!

I’m sure a trike like this will be on some parents’ wish lists this year!  You can check out the Smart-Trike Recliner 4in1 and other Smart-Trikes here.  Also available at Target and BigW.

Disclaimer: I received the Smart-Trike Recliner 4in1 for free courtesy of Smart-Trike.  Thanks Smart-Trike for the opportunity to (pardon the pun) road test the trike and share my thoughts.

*We… as in I took one look at the instructions and said, “Honey…?!!

End Of Year Thank You Gifts

As 2010 comes to a close (oh. my. goodness!) we say goodbye to some of the people in our “village” who have helped to raise our kids:  teachers, carers, coaches, babysitters, specialists… But what to give to show our appreciation?

This morning on air I suggested some alternatives to the usual gifts:

Listen here! SquiggleMum Podcast – thankyou gifts

  • Instead of chocolates… give a bowl of fruit.
  • Instead of a bunch of flowers… give a potted plant.
  • Instead of a book or calendar… give a magazine.
  • Instead of a coffee mug… give a range of teas or some gorgeous coffee.
  • More than anything… make sure you include a handwritten thank you card or note.

Two fruitbowls (one pictured above), wrapped in clear cellophane and finished with a Christmas bow went to my daughter’s kindy teachers yesterday.  What a wonderful year she has had!  Of course we included two thank you cards, and a handmade gift for use in the kindy.  (It is summer here in Australia, so our fruitbowls were full of delicious stonefruits and juicy mango. Mmmm.)

Don’t forget – when it comes to thank you gifts, the amount you spend is NOT an indication of how grateful you are!

Christmas Giveaway 2 – Personalised Pressies from Mooo

I like Mooo.  A lot.  They are a great Aussie company run by a bunch of young Dads.  They make top quality products with practical uses.  They listen to customer feedback and continually release new items based on what we say we want.  They have lots of gift ideas for under $30 too, and reasonable postage.  If you are still looking for gifts for kids this Christmas, jump over to Mooo.

My favourite product (and my pick for pressies) this year are Mooo’s personalised door stickers.  At $34.95 I think they are excellent value, and they come in a gorgeous range of designs and colours.

I fell in love with the Springville range of wall stickers the moment they were released, and have been longing to put the tree on my daughter’s wall.  (Shhh… don’t tell her, but thanks to the $50 voucher Mooo kindly sent me I have bought the tree and branch for her!!)  Isn’t Springville gorgeous?  We’ll add to our tree over time.  (This colour is Jemima)

The Springville range has a cool little online tool that you can use to see how the wall stickers look in different combinations and colours.  It’s so easy to customise the range by selecting your own colourway and only adding the pieces of the collection that suit you.  Try it out! For example this is simply the tree, branch and birdhouse in colour Mexico.  I actually think less is more!

For my second Christmas Giveaway here at SquiggleMum I have a $50 voucher up for grabs which you can spend on any wall stickers at Mooo!!  To enter, leave a comment below telling me which colour combo YOU think Springville looks best in.

Comp is open to Aussie residents only.  $50 voucher from Mooo to be spent on ANY wall stickers. (Voucher does not include shipping, and cannot be redeemed for cash. No change will be given on unspent voucher amount.) One entry per person please! Comp closes 6pm Qld time Friday 10 Dec.

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Disclaimer: I received a $50 voucher courtesy of my friends at Mooo to spend on wall stickers. Thanks Mooo!

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This competition has now closed. Congratulations to the random winner Jane who has won a $50 voucher to spend at Mooo!

Letters of Love – Letters to War

This week on 96Five FM (podcast below) I talked about their current campaign to send 3500 letters to soldiers serving away from home this Christmas. Many readers will know that I grew up in an Army family myself. My Dad served in the Australian Defence Force for 20 years, and much of my childhood was spent moving where ever Dad was posted. I remember the times when Dad was away. We missed him, and I’m sure he missed us too.

This year many Aussie families will be missing loved ones at Christmas because they are serving overseas. Kids will miss Dads.  Husbands will miss wives.  Parents will miss their adult children.  And soldiers will miss all that Christmas means to them back home.

So will you join me in writing a letter?  Just print off the letter head and write a quick note.  All the instructions you need are available on 96Five’s site.  Letters need to arrive at 96Five by this Friday, 10th December in order to make it into the hands of troops for Christmas.

I helped Miss 4 to write her own letter.  Her words are precious, “You might miss your family at Christmas and feel sad.  Don’t worry because you can blow kisses to them.  Kisses can fly all around the world (and they don’t pop)!”

If you’d like to hear my radio interview it’s available here: SquiggleMum Podcast – letters to war

PS – I wish I could also write a letter to every Mummy who has to manage this Christmas on her own with the kids while Daddy is away.  I would tell each mum that her kids won’t appreciate what she does, or notice how hard it is for her right now, but one day they’ll grow up. And then they will. xx