Saturday, 30 November 2013

48/52 - more blessed to give


Happy and carefree. 

Just the way childhood is supposed to be. 


I took the kids to the mall. 

I can't even remember the last time we did that (months and months ago??) but I was determined to get there before December 1st when the Christmas madness descends in force. The purpose of the trip was to let the kids choose out a special gift to donate to a child at Marymead - as is now our yearly tradition.

As we drove there, we talked a lot about the purpose of our trip - blessing other little children. Instead of finding things we would like, we'd look for gifts for kids who may otherwise not get anything at Christmas. More than just giving a material gift, we talked about how some kids have really hard lives and maybe even no Mummy or Daddy... that buying a gift is a way to bless them and help them feel loved. Ok, some of the concepts may be a little complex but as we chatted about it, bits and pieces seemed to sink in :) Yes, it's a challenge, especially for my kids who rarely have seen the overwhelming splendour of a toy store!! But they rallied and took their task very seriously. They chose out gifts for a five year old girl and three year old boy with thoughtfulness and joy. It was pretty sweet to watch. There were a few mentions of '....and now can we choose something for us?!' but they mostly stayed on task ;)

I guess giving generously when it's a little bit hard to unclasp those treasures is perhaps the most meaningful of all, isn't it. Because if it's easy to give, then it doesn't have quite the same depth of generosity. Reminds me of the Bible story in Mark 12, where the rich easily poured in money to the temple from their excess, but it was the widow who gave the only little coin she had who was praised for her faith and generous spirit. Mmmm, slightly off track but I was just reflecting on that, as I saw the kids choose only one gift, knowing it was for someone else.

My sweet Eli was very focused on his mission, thoughtfully walking the aisles and exclaiming 'I fink da little boy would like 'dis toy!' over and over and over. His heart was filled with generosity of spirit. He finally settled on a skate board, and then (bless!!!) marched off looking for the boy to give it to. I had to quickly explain that the child was not actually there, but we would take our gifts to Marymead soon!


He is racking up the milestones so fast these days, I can hardly keep track.

This look? This look says....

'Mother, although I am a third child and you therefore hardly ever remember to offer me a sippy cup with my delightful meals, I am actually quite capable and I feel you rather underestimate my abilities. So when you happen to leave a sippy cup on my tray, though strangely with the handles removed for some reason, I shall show you that I can actually pick it up and drink from it unassisted. Yes, I know I am very clever.'


(I will try not to feel his judgement but instead just marvel at his skill, heehee!)

Project 52: A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

More highlights from the week that was...

He taught himself to clap this week. And every time he gleefully smacks those hands together he goes 'AH!'

Exploring the many treasures in Great Papa's basement... this gorgeous highchair was just begging to be tried out!

Eli goes cruising on the trike, with Bee hitching a ride.
PS Whoa, look at his long legs! Where did my toddler go?!

Have dress, will twirl.

Tuckered out and a little dizzy from all that twirling. 

Brotherly smothering cuddles

Can find the tag on any toy or cloth book. That pursed mouth.... Just.Too.Cute.
I am addicted to this face. 

Looking so grown up in his collared shirt!!
Morning songs and games together before school.

He pulled DVD cases off the shelf then the allure of them enticed him into
commando crawling across the lounge room!

Man on a mission.

Just gotta reach that itch.
My darling girl got struck down with a hard-hitting but fast moving bout of gastro. As I held back her hair when she threw up, she looked up in panic and said in dismay 'Oh no, now you might get my germs and get sick too!'. Bless
her sweet heart... I told her it was my job to look after her when she is sick. My job and my privilege. 

Exploring the toy aisle together - so many choices!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Our Christmas Book Advent Calendar - Reading Our Way through Christmas

I am so excited to put together a Christmas Book Advent Calendar again this year, after launching in last year with our Twelve Days of Christmas Books :) This year I was ready to go the whole 24!! Of course, I forgot to collect very many during the year, but managed to scrabble 24 together at the last minute (thanks Amber, for the loaners!!)

If you haven't heard of this before, a Christmas Book Advent Calendar is counting down the days of December up till Christmas Day, using books instead of chocolate, treats or activities etc. As soon as I heard about it last year I was sold - no unnecessary junk food, not too much crazy expectations/work which I surely would not sustain for 24 days (let's be real, Christmas is busy enough, no way could I do a special activity, haha) - and a fun way to enjoy delightful Christmas books while we count down to the big day together! Sign me up, I said (to nobody in particular). 

You simply wrap them up, ready for December 1st and let the kids unwrap one to read each night. Gathered under the twinkly lights of the Christmas tree, reading is even more specialm huh?!

Here is this year's collection - mostly mine, some borrowed, and quite a few second hand (some were even Mark's childhood Christmas books!). Some are a bit same-ish, or just not that exciting (it was a stretch to get 24!), but each year I plan to add one good quality book. This year's is currently winging its way to me at the moment thanks to Book Depository. It's called My Christmas List, it looks beautiful and is about remembering the needs of others around the world, at Christmas and all year round. A perfect addition and timely reminder about our family commitment to thinking of others through the Christmas Season.

I love the idea of the kids having a special collection of familiar Christmas books to enjoy over the years - I am sure as they grow older some will phase in and out! But I know it will build some wonderful Christmas book memories for the whole family. It's also a lovely way to enjoy those Christmas books that I don't otherwise know quite what to do with :)

If you like this idea, it's not too late to do one too! You can always add a few non-Christmas books in there to stretch your stash, borrow some from the library or friends, dig around the op shops/thrift stores... or even just do 12 days of Christmas as we did last year, to take the pressure off a bit. It's a fun and easy way to count down to Christmas... and a celebration including books is always a rockin' one in our world ;)

Loving these cute advent numbers! A pretty free printable from here

My Christmas philosophy is very much about keeping things simple and that's part of why I love this Book Advent. But I also love to add in extras if and when I have the ability to do so without killing myself (or the children, haha). So, I had a fun little idea this year to spice it up a little. I taped the back of the paper number tags just at the top, and then on the underside, I flipped up a few of them and wrote some easy little Christmas activities, like 'Have a hot chocolate under the Xmas Tree', 'Call someone and sing them a Christmas carol' etc etc.

I just scattered about a half dozen through, but my thought is that when I have the time/energy/resources, (NOT every day!), then I can just quickly pencil in an extra activity! So if on some days I think we have time to do something or are planning to that night or the next day - e.g. go see Christmas lights, make ornaments, take gifts to the neighbours, etc, then on that day, when the kids lift the flap they will see if there is a little something extra to do :) Should be fun, without over committing or pressuring myself in advance, haha! Just a last minute thought I had. Would really like to focus especially on things that will serve/bless/help/think of others - but a few fun treats in there too of course. Will keep you posted on how that develops... but right now I am thinking it should be fun and manageable as I can just decide day-to-day what we can fit in.

I am so excited to have it all set up, and looking so colourful and enticing (who is the biggest kid here?!). Lily and Eli  were in awe when they saw them all lined up this morning after I set them all up last night.

And now, we eagerly await December 1st so we can start unwrapping and commence reading our way through the Christmas Season! Who wants to join me?! :)

Edited to add:

People have been asking about quality Christmas book suggestions, so here are a few of our best quality and most beloved Christmas books... I buy one good quality one a year to add to our collection, the rest are gifted or second hand!

Google the title to find the best price :)

Living Loving Laughing's Christmas Book Recommendation List!
  • Punchinello and the Most Marvelous Gift -  Max Lucado
  • Room for a Little One - Martin Waddell
  • Merry Christmas, Blue Kangaroo - Emma Chichester Clark
  • Brucie Saves Christmas - Yvonne Morrison
  • Christmas - Dick Bruna
  • My Christmas List - Amy Parker
  • Tari's First Christmas - Mary Diestel-Fedderson
  • I Love Christmas - Anna Walker
  • The Best Christmas Book Ever - Richard Scarry
  • God Gave Us Christmas - Lisa Tawn Bergren
  • Silver Packages - An Appalachian Christmas Story - Cynthia Rylant

PS If you like these adorable tags, you can download them free from this lovely site here, which I dug up through good ol' Pinterest. Enjoy! xx

Saturday, 23 November 2013

47/52 - more fete, more fun, more everything (except sleep)


Lily, Miles and I had a hectic 24 hours together, entirely dictated by Lily's social calendar. Clearly, I don't need my own anymore, right? ;) Mark was out of town, and Eli had a sleepover at Nana's which meant just me with my oldest and my youngest. A rare and different combination!

Our first event was Lily's school Fete. Classic fun fete times, with a different twist by being actually part of that school community for the first time! After the weather turned unexpectedly arctic, I bought Lily a second hand school jumper for $5 from a stall. My sentimental heart was not emotionally prepared to see her so adorably swamped in her too-big school jumper, but it was still pretty darn adorable!

She ran wildly around with preschool friends who seemed to appear from in and out of the woodwork, and they spun and spun on the tea cup ride in absolute glee.

I think the smile on her face says it all!


Picking his own snack.

At Lily's preschool they have a gorgeous low-hanging Mulberry tree. At this time of year
there is always a swarm of kids under it, plucking those juicy dark berries, reaching high into the branches for those tantalisingly out of reach treasures! They are full of ingenuity, using tyres and stools if needed, and so savvy at only choosing the ripe ones. Eli is always so excited to check the tree after school and partake of its glorious bounty. 

 (blurry iphone pic!)


We were outside and it was a little sunny, so I asked Lily to fetch Miles a hat.

She couldn't find one, so my resourceful girl decided to whip one up at her craft table. She measured his head and everything! Of course, we had come inside by the time it was done, but Miles kindly donned it anyway.

Project 52: A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

More highlights from the week that was...

High on life or fete food? You decide ;)
(Actually, all she had was a sausage sandwich, but this sure looks like a Fairy Floss Face!!)

Can't get enough of this joyful beam that whipped around at me at every rotation :)

Chillin' with her girls :)

She is still little, right??!

After the fete, Lily, Miles and I went straight to our church building where a Girl's Sleepover was being hosted. Organised by an amazing lady (Penny!) who happens to be one of my favourite people, it was something special not to be missed. Extra special because as a teen I had also attended sleepovers at the church building (organised by the same amazing woman) and have such fond memories of those nights. 

A gaggle of girls gathered together for an evening of fun and encouragement. Miles was permitted to be the token boy ;)  It was such a sweet evening, surrounded by a mixture of females, aged from five to fifty(ish!), sharing laughter and quality time and junk food and memories. I am so grateful my daughter gets to be surrounded by such a supportive, loving community of amazing ladies. We sang together, prayed and shared things we were grateful for. Then we all danced around with coin scarves Penny had brought along, jumping and twirling and laughing louder than the jingle of the coins. It was a classic moment! Lily looked in awe the whole time at all these shenanigans! :) 

And yes, everyone eventually settled down to sleep and yes, I did sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag, which made me feel rather like a teenager again! (Miles slept wonderfully, thankfully). 

Both amazed and slightly confused ;)

The next morning, bleary eyed, we all arose and ate a delicious pancake breakfast together. Then, Lily, Miles and I went right on to our third social event in a row - the birthday party of Lily's sweet school friend. She was undoubtedly tired (as was I!) but we rallied through a lovely little party that included face painting and lots of fun.

We all slept very well at home in our beds that night - united with both Eli and Mark once more. Three was fun, but five is as it should be!

A tired little butterfly

Must be more comfortable than it looks!

I read recently that blowing raspberries is an essential part of speech development. Well, whatever part of speech that's
developing is getting well and truly mastered by Master Miles over the last couple months!! (Just don't get caught in the
cross fire!).

Miles was very excited to see the Christmas Box dragged out of the shed! (Or perhaps just excited about ripping the duct tape from the tub?) Yes, Christmas preparations are in earnest around here and I am super duper excited for the fun of the season ahead! :) 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

moving pictures of little moments

I have been pretty slack in taking videos of the kids over the years. I try to take snippets here and there but often forget when taking photos instead. I caught a few clips recently that I thought I would post here in the spirit of them not getting lost in the vortex that is my computer folders.

Photos are fabulous and all that, but there is something about video (ahhh, moving pictures, the magic!) - they convey those cute little voices, the mannerisms, the spirit of the child. Growing up in the 80's (woot!), we were pretty lucky to have a video camera as my Dad was so into gadgets ;) Watching those hours of home movies from back in the day is pretty cool (and embarrassing - but still cool).

So here are a few snippets of my three from recent weeks...


The last couple months we have been playing audio books on CD for the kids at bed time. For various reasons - exposure to books via audio is so good for their concentration and comprehension skills, it helps tone down some of the potential bedtime-monkey-antics if they have something to listen to, and most of all, an opportunity for Words of wisdom to soak into their little hearts.

They have been listening to Max Lucado's The Story for Children Bible.... I had heard them repeat snippets here and there, but all of a sudden one night at dinner, Lily busted out a verbatim retelling of the story of Genesis. Over six minutes worth. I had no idea!! Needless to say, we were pretty impressed :) And so was she 'I'm so proud of myself' she kept saying :)

Oh, and you can overhear Eli who wanders into the room inserting 'Read by Max Potato' (instead of Lucado. Ha!!). He has memories a fair bit too!


This simple and sweet little clip just captures Eli so well right now. Merrily singing to himself whilst sitting at the Craft Table and sticking pins into cork mats (his new favourite activity). I love watching him, so unselfconscious, singing away, making up rhymes (he loves rhyming) and amusing himself, with a little playing up to the camera too. Such a ham. Such a treasure! I love when he course-corrects his song half way through.

Just a chilled out, happy little moment of the boy I just adore.


Just a little funny clip of our little ray of sunshine working hard to make himself heard in the midst of our noisy family! This kid can be LOUD ;)


Whilst sharing clips, I just had to share this cute one of the kids enjoying pizza dinner with Finn and Harper when they came for a sleepover recently. They were nattering away (quietening down when I stopped to film of course). But I just love their sweet interactions and group checks about how much sauce they have on their faces. Lily has taken it as a point of pride to be able to eat any food without getting it all over her face. I think this in deliberate contrast her brother (yes, him with sauce all over his face!).

Sunday, 17 November 2013

46/52 - fete + bear


The time finally arrived - it was Lily's turn to bring home 'Polly' from Preschool. Polly is the class teddy bear who travels home with one of the kids each week, having adventures in the home and then returning to tell the class all about the fun they had. Lily gets to draw all about their adventures in a special book, while I help scribe her retelling of their hijinks. 

Caring for Polly is a great privilege and responsibility. Polly is very important. Polly wants to be part of every adventure. Lily is taking this task very seriously indeed, so we all must too! ;) 

Polly's first task was to help Lily unstack the dishwasher. She didn't seem to help much but I think Lily enjoyed her company just the same!


What is it with guys and the power of the TV remote control??

Ever since I showed him how to press 'Pause' (and Power and Play) with the remote, he watches TV just like this. 

From the next room, Playschool sounds like:

'Mary (pause) had a (pause) little (pause) lamb (pause).....'

At the slightest noise in the house it's:

'(Pause) Sorry, what did you say, Mummy?? Oh, nothing, ok (Play)....'

Ha. It's hilarious. He loves wielding the power of the remote, though he only gets to watch like this when Lily is not around as it is a little tiresome (to say the least) for everyone else. But it's also funny, quirky and adorable, just like Eli :) 


How blessed I am to have this cheery little face gazing at me! 

(Just a quiet moment hanging out on the bed with the kiddos)

Project 52: A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

More highlights from the week that was....

The quizzical eyebrow. Kills me every time.

Lily: Miles, you can hold Polly......(chomp) Noooooooooooooooooooooo, Baby Miles!!!'

Eli asked to take some photos of Miles and I with my very big, heavy camera. This was the result....
....and this....

And THIS! :) Well done, Eli! 

Eli always asks if Miles can have a 'little lie down wif' me' before nap time. Clearly, they coordinated vintage t-shirt day!

The Marymead Fete rolled around once again, and as per every
year, Mum and I run the book stall. Well, she is the Book Stall pro
and I am her assistant. And the assistant's assistant is this
cute kid who was quite the draw card :) (iphone)

The sweetest view in the world - when I wear Miles in the Ergo carrier, every time I glance down, I see this beautiful face peering up at me, smiling expectantly. How could you not smother this face in kisses, I ask ya????? 
Bad photo of a gorgeous moment at the Marymead Fete. Eli got to sit in a police car and press the siren! Woohoo!

Cuddling baby animals at the Petting Zoo

Tap Tap Boards borrowed from my dear Amber are a huge hit. I have rarely seen Eli focus as he did on this task!
Hammer and nails win his heart.

After a hair cut (ohhhh, there is his little face!), I took Eli for a little Mummy/Son
babycino date - with a blue macaron, no less! Just love chatting with this sunny little
fellow, he is so full of questions, ideas and joyful exuberance for every adventure.