30 November 2012

Un Calendario dell'Avvento


Al fine di novembre, ho creato un calendario d'Avvento per le bambine.


Invece di cioccolati, ho messo delle illustrazioni per colorare o qualcos'altra da fare per ogni giorno dell'Avvento.



Advent calendar: preparation

We've never done the Advent calendar thing before. I've seen them in the shops, but always shied away from them because I'm not keen on giving the MissyMoos chocolate everyday. Chocolate makes them a little ... excitable. Also, to me, Advent is more than that - it's preparing ourselves to celebrate Christmas. And Christmas is more than lollies and Santa - it's about the birth of Jesus. I'm quite into all the Santa stuff with the kids, but I also want to teach them the real "reason for the season".

Last year, we made a nativity scene. This year, I decided to try my hand at a home-made Advent calendar. Rather than have sweets each day, I've put in an activity for MissyMoo1 (6) and MissyMoo2(3) to do. As they're quite young, they're fairly simple things - mainly colouring in and a few other bits and pieces - but all with a Christmas theme.


I bought some Christmas themed paper cups, printed out numbers for each day of December and pasted them on the cups. Even though Advent doesn't officially start until Sunday 2nd December, I thought it would be easier just starting from Saturday, as it's the first of the month.



Then I rolled up the printed activities, tied them with ribbon and placed them in the cup.


I will peg each cup on a piece of string and hang it on a wall in the living room. I had hoped to put a picture of the final product up on this post, but the cups are still all sitting in a cardboard box waiting to be hung up. That is this afternoon's job!

29 November 2012

Quote #8

"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

 - Mother Teresa

28 November 2012

Kidspeak Gems: MissyMoo2

MissyMoo3 (14 months) was sitting in the highchair with a fistful of birthday cake, crumbs on her clothes and icing all around her mouth.

MissyMoo2 (3) exclaimed: "She looks like the pig in Shrek!"

Do you know the one? In "Shrek Forever After", the three little pigs eat the ogre triplets' birthday cake. Yeah, that one.

It was so funny, it had us all in peals of laughter. If you hadn't already guessed from all her other kidspeak gems, MissyMoo2 is our resident comedian :-)

27 November 2012

MissyMoo1 turns 6

Oh my goodness, I have a six-year-old! No way, there must be some mistake, I'm far too young for that...


I have a lovely, tall, caring, intelligent six-year-old. She can read, write sentences and tie her own shoelaces (and everyone else's in her class at school, I'm told). MissyMoo1 has a quick wit, often putting me to shame. She is sensitive, but also headstrong. Sometimes we clash (already!) but I try to remind myself that it's her determination that kept her here with us right at the start, and it is something which should be celebrated.

Speaking of her start in life, this is the first of her birthdays during which I have not dwelt upon her birth and felt emotional at some point in the day. Could I finally be healing from the trauma after all this time? Better yet, does this mean that in five years' time I'll get over MissyMoo3's birth too? We live in hope...

MissyMoo1, dear heart, chose a family day out on the weekend to celebrate her birthday instead of a party with her classmates (woohoo, no house full of six-year-olds this year!). We had a wonderful day out - our nuclear family, both sets of grandparents and her uncle.

As it was her birthday yesterday, a school day, she had a special day at school. A birthday certificate at morning assembly, cupcakes shared with her class, birthday news and a lunch order. The festivities continued at home with a dvd on in the afternoon, followed by dinner of her choice and cake.


I wish I could express my pride at having made such a culinary masterpiece, but instead I shall express my pride at having known my limitations and instead having ordered this beauty from a bakery. Yes, there is even glitter on the rainbow. It looks great and it tasted even better.

Happy birthday MissyMoo1.
xx



24 November 2012

Christmas bottoms


Yet another example of how excited I am about Christmas this year. I don't normally buy into this sort of gimmicky stuff, but I couldn't help myself. I'll be getting these out for MissyMoo3 (13 months) on warm days over Christmas!

23 November 2012

Francesca Takes the Train

Speaking of taking the train, I took the train the other day - a few trains actually, both inter-city and intra-city. It was quite interesting in a 'thank goodness I don't do this every day any more' kind of way.

I was doing work on the train, which helped immensely in passing the time, but there was also ample opportunity to observe my surroundings - both objects and people - as well as listening to some rather interesting (and some cringeworthy) conversations between passengers (I find it slightly unsettling how people carry on conversations as if no-one else can hear them...)

My "take home message" from this experience is that I am so happy with, thankful for and proud of the decisions Hubby and I have made in the past few years to have us where we are right now. We might not have a fancy house or an annual holiday, but the grass is greener on our side. Back in the day when we were newlyweds living the corporate life in a rented box in the sky, I was sometimes made to feel by colleagues with their big-city lawyer mentality, that I was sacrificing my career by having a baby at the tender age of 25 (which, for a lawyer in my field, was rare). It turns out that this was not the case - I am happy with where I am professionally. But not only professionally - I am so proud of our MissyMoos, of Hubby and I for creating such beautiful people and of the way we have stayed true to our priorities and ourselves.

Wow, what a productive train ride!

22 November 2012

Mrs Queen Takes the Train - William Kuhn

I was fortunate enough to win a proof copy of this book from Allen & Unwin in a Facebook competition recently.


I don't always enter these sorts of things but when I read the summary Allen & Unwin provided for the competition, I thought it would be something I'd be interested in reading.

The book is a fictional story of Queen Elizabeth II taking the train - alone - and a band of unlikely characters getting together in an attempt to find her.

The book contains a few old photos of various people at different stages of the story, which I thought was a lovely addition. It gave a bit of a "history book" feel to the novel, which I liked.

My only criticism would be that because of all of the characters, each having his or her own back story being told, the book did not flow as well as it could have. However, this was probably exacerbated by the fact that I was only able to read a few pages without interruption in any one sitting. It did all come together well in the end, though.

I would recommend this book when it comes out for something a bit different to read. Although a work of fiction, it had the effect of showing a soft, more human side to such a grand ceremonial figure. And it's nice to think that maybe, just maybe, even the Queen of England has days when she wants to get away from it all.

Book: Paperback proof copy. I own it - I won it in a competition.
Rating: I gave this 4 stars on Goodreads.
One-liner: A light-hearted story about the escape of the Queen of England.

21 November 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Seminar

I'm in Sydney today with my lawyer hat on. Just enjoying some morning tea  :-)


Wordless Wednesday link up at:

19 November 2012

Fruit or Vegetable?

On the weekend, what started out as a simple chat in the car between myself, Hubby and the two biggest MissyMoos turned to confusion. Somehow the subject of fruit and vegetables came up. MissyMoo1 (5) and MissyMoo2 (3) were chatty, asking questions, engaging in conversation, so off went the stereo and on went our thinking caps.

MissyMoo1 asked what the difference was between a fruit and a vegetable. Thinking I knew what I was talking about, I responded knowingly that fruit have seeds and vegetables do not. "What about tomatoes?" came a little voice from the back of the car. Aha, I thought, I can answer this! I responded knowingly that tomatoes are actually fruit even though they don't taste sweet like most fruit, which is why we eat them with vegetables. "What about cucumber?" (MissyMoo2 loves cucumber at the moment. In the supermarket, it's always "Can we get a cucumber?").

Hmm, what about cucumber? It has seeds. I responded not so knowingly that it does have seeds so maybe it is a fruit, but we eat it with vegetables, a bit like tomatoes.

"What about zucchini?"

Bloody hell. Here we were, supposedly having an easy-going chat and my five and three-year-olds are getting all scientific on me. We were tying ourselves up in knots over the definitions of fruit and veg. I was supposed to be counting down the minutes to my first glass of bubbly at a family gathering. I decided to turn to Google in my minute of need. All I can say is thanks for nothing, Google. Sometimes having too much information is worse than not having enough.

We agreed that it really was a puzzle, and maybe we could think about it and come up with some new ideas later. Phew.

So, to any botanists out there (or any know-it-alls in general), now's your chance to shine. What is the difference between a fruit and a vegetable?

14 November 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Picnic of Leftovers





Wordless Wednesday link up at:

13 November 2012

Toddles

Well, the time has come, MissyMoo3 (13 months) has finally done it: she is

WALKING!

This has seemed to be a long time coming, but that does not make it any less exciting. It has been a long time coming for two reasons:

(1) In my mind, I was assuming that she would walk at around twelve months, as MissyMoo1 took her first unaided steps a couple of weeks before her first birthday and MissyMoo2 took hers a day after hers (I know, I know, you shouldn't compare your children but seriously, who doesn't?)

(2) MissyMoo3 started cruising around furniture a good 6 weeks before she took her first solo steps. The last couple of days beforehand, it was barely her fingertips touching whatever it was she needed to touch at the time to give her the confidence to put one tiny foot in front of the other. It was frustrating, but also exciting, to know that confidence was the only thing standing in her way of letting go.

Early last week, at 13 months, we saw the first two steps. It went something like this: step, step, plonk on bum, look up and smile proudly at audience.

Fast forward a week and last night she toddled the length of the house, from her sister's bedroom at one end to the lounge room on the other.

It's so cute on so many levels.

MissyMoo1 and MissyMoo2 still seem to be amazed and feel the need to, every time they see her, say: "Look mum, she's walking!" in such excited voices that you would think it was the first time they had seen anything of the sort (even though they had the same reaction only 10 seconds earlier).

Toddle. It's such a funny word. And yet, it perfectly describes the movement of MissyMoo3's body as she puts one little foot in front of the other. I had completely forgotten how amazingly cute the first few weeks of walking are. The wobbles; the little legs being so ... little and yet managing to hold up the entire body and move it along; the arms waving in the air to keep balance; the toothy grin (she has 4 teeth now) showing how happy she is to be moving in the same way as her big sisters.

I'm so excited for her. Occasionally, I have pangs of "my baby is growing up" sentiments (usually when I'm cradling her when she's having a bottle), but for the most part, I really enjoy seeing her growing and putting, bit by bit, some distance between us and babyland.

So, given the length-of-house toddle, I think we can safely say that MissyMoo3 is walking now. Does this mean we've reached the cross-over point from baby to toddler? Looking at her, I really think so.

12 November 2012

The art of efficient conversation

My latest article on Aussie Mum Network is called "The Art of Efficient Conversation". You can check it out at http://www.aussiemumnetwork.com/the-art-of-efficient-conversation.html.

Thanks for reading :-)

(Edit - it is now also copied below)

...

I love a good story. I love using language to weave a tale. It is a craft. In my late teens, I would speak to friends, and later Hubby, for hours at a time on the telephone. My friends and I would write pages of letters or emails to each other and that was after having been at school or uni together all day. What did we have to say? Well, it wasn't about reaching a point, it was more about enjoying the process of communication.

I have always been a little wordy – verbose on an extreme day. Having children has changed all that. It is nigh on impossible to have a conversation for five minutes on the telephone without being interrupted. There is no opportunity to go off on tangents and then amble back to the point when children are around, demanding attention. Writing? That happens at night, after the children go to bed and the chores are done.

Now, in a time-poor life, conversation must be carried out as all other tasks: efficiently. But if weaving a yarn is a craft, then efficient conversation is an art. One must basically convey the maximum amount of information in the minimum amount of time – be it to a child’s teacher before class, organising something with a friend in passing, or snippets of conversation with the husband to keep the household functioning.

At first, I found it incredibly difficult. I would be cut off and the conversation would have moved on before I was anywhere near making my point. I would wonder how people managed to keep on top of what was happening with only a five minute window for catching up. In time, though, I realised that the key is efficiency. Make every word count. I am slowly figuring out what to say and when to say it. There is no opportunity for introductions, build-ups or delicacy. A direct, front-on assault is what is required. It is blunt, but that's okay.




09 November 2012

Nativity Scene Envy

This time last year we were in the midst of making our very own nativity scene.

At the time, I hadn't been able to find a photo of the nativity scene which inspired this desire to build my own. Since then, my parents found and scanned this photo for me :


I'm the big sister on the right with the trendy haircut (aged 5). The cutie on the left is my little sister (aged 3). Anyway, aside from showing off the 80s styling, the purpose of publishing this photo is to show you the magnificent nativity scene which my Nonna made from scratch and which took pride of place in my Nonni's lounge room each Christmas.

Compare that with this:


It's slightly pathetic in comparison, but it's a start. We won't be attempting another one this year, but I'm happy to have the photo of the old and to bring out the new at the start of Advent.

08 November 2012

Christmas is creeping up on me

I don't usually think about Christmas this early, but this year, I'm finding I can't help it.

With MissyMoo1's (5) birthday at the end of November, we've usually tried to keep some separation between her birthday and Christmas. We don't put up the tree, play Christmas music, watch Christmas movies or do anything remotely Christmassy until after the birthday. 

Last year, I started to realise that four weeks just wasn't long enough to prepare for Christmas. So I decided that I could separate the events outwardly, but behind the scenes I would be thinking about Christmas prior to MissyMoo1's birthday.

This year, I have continued with that, preparing for MissyMoo1's birthday and Christmas behind the scenes simultaneously, whilst attempting to focus on one thing at a time with the children.

Trouble is, over the past week or so, I've been thinking so many Christmas thoughts. There are some things needing prior planning - Nonna & Par's present (Nonna, I know you read my blog so that's all I'm going to say!), presents list for everyone else, other preparations in the home, playgroup Christmas stuff. MissyMoo1 has been borrowing Christmas books from her school library. Add to that the inevitable filling of the calendar with social engagements in the lead up to Christmas and I'm finding that Christmas thoughts are starting to creep in everywhere. 



I've been trying to keep a lid on it lest I run out of steam and peak early, but I've realised that I'm really starting to get excited!! There, I've said it. Now I just have to keep my cool in front of the kidlets for three more weeks, then we can start openly talking about Christmas. Be warned, I may be blogging a bit about Christmas to get it out of my system without confusing my kids!

How about you? When do you start getting excited about Christmas?

06 November 2012

20,000 Pageviews

Today my blog reached 

20,000 

all time pageviews!!!

Another goal achieved!

So, to celebrate, I've decided to have a statistics party post - woohoo!

My first post on this blog was written in December 2009. Since then, this blog has been viewed in 86 countries. My most popular month was last month, October 2012 with  2,459 pageviews.

Blogger can tell me the top ten viewing countries of all time, so I have decided to write each of them a message in their native tongue:

  1. Australia: G'day Aussies. Thanks for readin' me yarns. I reckon it's bloody beautiful.
  2. United States: Hi ya'll. Thanks for reading my stories. It's been legen ... wait for it ... dary.
  3. Russia: Здравствуйте. Спасибо за чтение моих рассказов.
  4. United Kingdom: Hello chaps. I'm much obliged for your kind attention to my tales.
  5. Germany: Hallo. Vielen Dank dafür, meine Geschichten zu lesen.
  6. France: Bonjour. Merci de lire mes histoires.
  7. India: हैलो है। मेरी कहानियों पढने के लिए धन्यवाद.
  8. Brazil: Olá. Obrigado por ler as minhas histórias.
  9. Japan: こんにちは。私の話を読んでいただき、ありがとうございます。
  10. Canada: Hi guys. Thanks for reading my stories. / Bonjour. Merci de lire mes histoires.

And thanks to Google , for your contribution to five out of 10 translations :-)

Seriously, though, thanks everyone for reading my blog - I can't believe it's already reached 20,000 pageviews (most of them not mine!). Raise your glasses (and your translation dictionaries) to many more to come.

xx

Melbourne Cup Fashion 2012

At work, we dress up on Melbourne Cup day. I like dressing up on Melbourne Cup day.

For work dress-ups, there's usually a theme. My first year there, it was "bad taste". As I'd only started working there around six weeks earlier, I decided not to partake in the dress code, not knowing exactly how into it people got and not wanting to embarrass myself when I'd only been there five minutes. (I needn't have worried. People got into it.)

Last year, I was on maternity leave for Melbourne Cup, so this is my first work-related dressing up event. This year's theme is "colour".


Do you think this will be colourful enough?!

05 November 2012

Another year, another camel

Do you remember my "Camel by the water" post?

Well, this year the festival was back, and the camels were back too.


MissyMoo1 (5) was half interested in a ride, but was quickly distracted (thankfully) by the nearby miniature pony rides. She loved that!

03 November 2012

Play Dough

In my recent post about playgroup craft, I mentioned that I was thinking about making some play dough for our next playgroup.

I managed to sneak in some time to make it, half the night before and half the morning of:


The kids had a great time with it at playgroup. They made little balls from the dough, flattened it into "biscuits", made worms. B found some play dough shape cutters and rolling pins so we just lay it all out on the table and the kids went with it. Not just the kids either. I found myself moulding some between my hands during conversation. It was good easy fun.

Speaking of easy, it's really easy to make.

Recipe

2 cups plain flour
1 cup cooking salt
4 tbsps cream of tartar
1 3/4 cups boiling water
2 tbsps polyunsaturated oil.
Food colouring

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon and then knead for a bit (once it has cooled slightly or you'll burn your hands - I learned that the hard way). It keeps for a while. I just store mine in old ice cream containers in the pantry.

02 November 2012

3am

I try not to make a habit of being awake at this time. But sometimes when I find myself looking at 3am on the clock, it can be pleasant.

If no little darlings are crying or coughing, the sounds of 3am are inviting: a little swoosh of the breeze outside, Hubby's peaceful breathing, the comforting sounds of stillness.

The light of 3am dances through gaps in the blinds when the moon is full.

Serenity places a soothing hand on my shoulder. There is nowhere to be, nothing to do, just 'be'.

How can a place seem so different from one part of the day to the next?

Moonlight, dance away my fears. Silence, smooth away my worries. Night, carry me back to sleep.

01 November 2012

Playgroup Craft

B and I have recently taken over co-ordinating our playgroup.

It's pretty easy-going stuff. We just have to make sure one or both of us is there each week to open up, everyone pitches in to set up, the kids play, the parents drink coffee and chat, everyone pitches in at packing things away and then B or I lock up.

Easy.

The only thing that I think will be a challenge will be organising craft each week. I am not a crafty person. I know it doesn't have to be super awesome, as we're talking kids up to 5 years of age here who will be doing the craft (and their parents!).  But if we don't want to be drawing on scrap pieces of paper each week with coloured pencils, I can see that I'll be searching the internet for ideas on a regular basis.

Here's what we did two weeks ago:


This was MissyMoo2's (3) attempt at a paper bag puppet. I think it's a monster ... or something...

Last week we made paper chains:
We'll be doing this again at some stage,as there's a heap of coloured paper left over ... and it was easy - the kids could do it themselves which left the parents free hands for important stuff like coffee drinking.

What will we be doing tomorrow? Play dough if I can be bothered to make some this afternoon. Otherwise it'll be drawing on scrap paper with coloured pencils. Stay tuned!!
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