Tuesday, 30 December 2014

That was the year that was

It's nearly the end of 2014 and so it seems fitting to have a bit of a look back at the year, or at least my experience of it. What happened, what didn't happen and possibly what I'd like to achieve next year.

The children, who of course play the biggest role in my life, got bigger, and older and grew so much. The two boys are flying through school at an alarming rate, with Mahe just finishing year one, and Kai at the end of year three. Of course this time next year I'll have three at school and one at daycare, but I don't want to think about that. Having four children can be stressful and tiring and busy, but most of all it's so much fun, I love every second and it's more than worth it.

That was the year that was

Work wise I took on another business (minkylicious) at the beginning of the year, and continued to work on the two that I already had (ecobots and nappyneedz) so now not only am I doing lots with cloth nappies, but I've got fabric and nappy making supplies too.  I wouldn't say I'm ready to buy the second house in the Caribbean yet, or the yacht, but it's keeping me out of trouble. With any luck (and yet more had work) I'm hoping that it's going to be even bigger an better this year.

minkylicious goodness

The last few months, I've been doing battle with food baby and I've even started to wear a few clothes that I didn't for a while. Things haven't gone completely, but I'm feeling a lot happier about it all, so that's got to be a good thing. I just need to make sure that next year I don't fall back into bad habits, and try and keep up with the yoga. That helps in all kinds of ways, not just with dealing with the bulge.

I've spent a lot of time this year reading, which is nothing new, I always do. I've devoured all kinds of books at a great rate, (thank goodness for my kindle) I don't want to stop doing that next year, although I might get a little more selective about what I download. I've gone through quite a few free or 77p (as I buy off the UK Amazon site) books, I have to admit that I've found some great new authors that way, but there's a lot of rubbish too. Life is too short for crap books, so I'm going to only bother reading those that are well written and have a good story. Which leads me onto something else, for many many years I've said I'm going to attempt to write something myself. Really give it a good go, not the random scribblings that don't really go beyond the first chapter or initial idea. I think it's time I stopped saying one day, and started saying today, now. I'm not saying it will be any good, I'm not saying that I'll ever feel it's good enough to show other people, but if I don't try at some point, then I'll come to regret it I'm sure. So, next year I'm going to give it a really good go, and at the very least start my book. Watch this space, I may have more to say on this later in the year......

Reading reading reading, always reading

I'm sure that there was much more that happened this year, but right now, sitting here, nothing really springs to mind. For now, it will have to do; 2014 that was the year that was.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Party Season

It's that time of year again, which means that not only is town full of people madly shopping for last minute gifts, but party season (for the children at least) is upon us.  It's nearly Christmas.  We managed to have two parties just this last weekend, which is probably slightly bad timing, it might have been slightly better to spread them over two weekends, but at least they weren't on the same day, which is what nearly happened.

Christmas party season

First up was the fire brigade family party, I'm not sure if I've mentioned before or not, by my husband is a local volunteer fire fighter, so we get to go to the Christmas party with all of the other families who are involved.  This year it was an evening do with a barbecue and I may (or may not) have had quite a bit of wine to drink, seeing as I wasn't driving. It was lots of fun, and the children loved it, especially as there was face painting involved, the three who decided to get their face painted went all out festive and chose a butterfly (for both of the girls) and a zombie (obviously).

butterfly facepaintbutterflyZombie boy
Second up was a Saturday afternoon party at playcentre; another barbecue and visit from Santa, and fun was had by all.  This time there was a little letter box to write a letter to Santa in.  All of the parents were discreetly checking out what their children were asking for, just to make sure that there weren't any unexpected requests.

Meeting Santa at the Christmas party

The chance to meet Santa (twice) and all get together is fantastic, but it also always seems to remind me how the children's expectations are so often much lower than we expect.  It's so easy to spend a fortune at Christmas and go overboard. This year though, Lena was a little upset.  I asked her what was wrong and she told me that she'd asked for some earrings, and was given a jigsaw instead.  She soon cheered up when I explained that this was just a little present from Santa, and she'd be getting something else when it was actually Christmas.  I think that she thought that this was it; Christmas, and had she got her earrings (clip on, by the way, we've not had that battle yet) she'd have probably been completely content with that.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Cheap and cheerful Christmas gifts

Christmas is such an expensive time of year, and it's easy to get carried away with the amount that you spend on Christmas gifts.  Although it's lovely to give people something for Christmas, it needn't cost the earth, and with a bit of thought you can get some great gifts really cheaply.  Here are five ideas for cheap and cheerful Christmas gifts for children:

1. Dressing up clothes

My children love to dress up, but there's no need to spend a fortune on lots of proper outfits.  A few years ago I got a big box and filled it with old hats, bags, shoes and head squares that I found at a local second hand shop.  The children loved playing with them and dressing up, and I only spent about $25 on a huge box of things that gets played with lots.

Dressing up clothes make a great cheap and cheerful Christmas gifts

2.Dollar shop fun

There's a lot of tat and rubbish to be found in dollar shops, but there are also bargains to be had.  Have a look at what's on offer next time you pass, the cheaper building blocks that are lego compatible are often great value for money, and you can get some fantastic sets for very little money. Smaller items like footballs, kites and skipping ropes are often cheaper from dollar shops and still great quality.

3.Books, books, books

My kids love to have stories, but new books can be really expensive.  You can pick up pre-loved children's books from second hand book shops, as well as op-shops and charity stores, sometimes for as little as 50 cents.  A book doesn't have to be brand new to make a great gift.

Books always make good gifts

4. Days out

Days out with the family don't have to cost the earth, lots of trips are free or very reasonably priced. Think about giving the children a voucher for a trip to the beach, or to the local museum.  A picnic can be fairly reasonable and lots of fun.

5.Pre-loved toys

Christmas gifts don't have to come in their original packaging, and there's no reason why you cant give pre-loved toys as cheap and cheerful Christmas gifts.  One of the best Christmas gifts we gave our boys when they were younger was a whole tub filled with second hand duplo that we got for $15 off trademe.  They still play with it today.

Pre-loved toys can be a Christmas hit

So there you have it, a few ideas for cheap and cheerful Christmas gifts, what do you do to avoid spending a fortune at this time of year.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

When do you put your Christmas tree up?

It's December, which means one thing, Christmas is getting closer. Shops have had Christmas items and decorations up for weeks now, but when do you put your Christmas tree up? For some people, the moment that December arrives, (and in some cases even before) up goes the tree. I'm in the later is better camp though, and our tree doesn't tend to go up until just before Christmas.  I suppose that some people may think that makes me a bit of a Scrooge, but I think it makes it a bit more special when you do put it up.  Not sure what my friend Vlad (in the photo) would think, he's clearly in the Christmas spirit.

December already!

Traditionally, trees were put up later in the month, even as late as Christmas eve. Actually we got close to that date ourselves last year, but most because coordinating collecting a Christmas tree with four small children proved to be a bit of a challenge.  One of the main reasons that I like to put the tree up late, is that I keep ours up for the full twelve days of Christmas.  It's unlucky to keep it up beyond the 12th night, but many people pull there's down the second that Christmas day, or possibly Boxing day has passed.  I think part of the reason for this, is that people think of Christmas day being the end of the Christmas period, possibly because of the huge amount of build up in the lead up to the 25th of December. I can see how you might be sick of the tree by the 12th night, if you've had it up all December though.

When do you put your Christmas tree up?

As it's now December, we've also got the advent calendars out. I don't get the Children the chocolate ones that are common in the shops these days. They haven't cottoned onto the fact that there are calendars out there with chocolates in as yet, and as the chocolates aren't usually that nice, I've got them a cardboard calendar with a little picture behind each window instead. We've also got a really cool playmobile calendar, as you open each window you find a small playmobile figure that make up a winter scene. Who needs chocolate? (and I can promise that this is probably the only time that you'll hear me say that).

Christmas is on the way, but so far in house we're a bit bah-humbug, for another week or so anyway.