Monday, December 22, 2014

The non commercialised 'Christmas Eve Box'

As it is Christmas Eve-Eve-Eve I think it is an appropriate time to have this conversation. I am sure I am not the only one to have noticed how popular the 'Christmas Eve Box' has gotten over the last couple of years. I think Pinterest has the pleasure of being responsible for this new "fad". The following picture has made its way around several of my social media feeds many times over.

My initial thoughts were... really? Do our kids need more presents? closely followed by... we never had anything like this as kids growing up, we had to wait until Christmas day before we got to open any presents, is it really necessary?

So the first few years, I ignored it and didn't give it much thought. Then for some reason, this year... I would say it might have something to do with the fact that Hannah is almost 3 and is really starting to take it all in this year. Her little face lights up at all aspects of the Christmas concept. A little switch flicked inside of me and all of a sudden special family Christmas traditions is a really big deal and something I really want for my children. They are only small for such a short amount of time. I want Christmas and their memories of them to be such a magical, joyful, warm time.

So among other things we went Christmas light looking, did Santa photos, watched the carols by candle light and so on. Then I found this pin...

And it occurred to me, The Christmas Eve Box isn't about going and buying your kids another present. The items in the box were not just randomly chosen gifts. It is about building a family tradition. By purposely putting things in it that helps make Christmas eve not just another night. It wasn't until I seen this version of the Christmas Eve Box; which included things like a magical key to leave out for Santa, the special ornament to place on the tree, the cookie mix to make Santa a treat and the reindeer food. 

This stuff doesn't need to be brand new brought things every year or expensive commercialised presents! It plays a part in the family activities that you do together the night before Christmas. To prepare for Santa's arrival. Those magical, special, warm memories for children to have as they grow old!

So... I have been working on this-

I am not completely done, My hunt for a special magical Santa Key is not over yet, and as we are going away for Christmas day, it isn't practical to do baking the night before so we will start that next year and I didn't make Amelia her own box this year as she is just way to little to even care about any of this, so she will share Hannah's this year. But here is to our new tradition. 

I am also thinking of starting an 'Elf On The Shelf' next year. Another popular new "fad" that is going around at the moment. Why not... it's Christmas!

Do you have any special family Christmas traditions?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Gift Giving Guide- best gifts for Mum!

A lot of the gift giving emphasis at Christmas is on the children, and lets face it... most of the time it is the Mums' doing the gift buying and often they find themselves forgotten or an after thought. Dad's or anyone who may be buying for a Mother, let's appreciate her hard work throughout the year and spoil her, she deserves it! 

Although we are edging closer and closer to Christmas day and most people have already started their gift buying, if not finished it by now; we all know Dads' leave their Christmas shopping to the last minute, sooooo it is not too late to not so subtly show the Dad in your life these great gift ideas for Mum.

All Mum's LOVE handmade gifts and cards! But put a little effort in. Something a little more special than the average texta drawing. How about get some paint out and do hand prints. Capturing this point in time where the children will never be this tiny again, a hand print is a lasting memory! Maybe these might provide you with some inspiration-

Most mums really don't need expensive gifts. It is the thought that counts!

All mum's also love something nice to eat. Have you thought about some chocolates? Lindt chocolate is among the very best and you can get a packet like this from your local super market somewhere between $5 and $10. 

I did hear that chocolate releases the happy hormones. Happy wife = happy life!

and under

How about a photo mug. They are beautiful and a great way to get your wonderful photos and memories off the computer and being appreciated everyday. You are only limited by your imagination with the design. Harvey Norman do them for around $12.
Giving Mum her own special cup just might get her day off to a brighter start!

Watch the kids for half an hour and send Mum off for a Pedicure! For roughly $40- This is a long lasting feel good gift! Most towns have a nail salon in at least one of their shopping centres, or try the local beauty salon. Taking just half an hour out for herself recharges her batteries while the AMAZING massage chair soothes her aching back and the beautician gets to work on her hard working feet which has an instant effect... Each time she looks down at her beautifully painted toe nails she will continue to feel refreshed for many days later.

Buy Mum a good TV series. This is sure to keep her entertained for a while and is a great distraction from life. Some time out and a chance to stop worrying about what needs to be done and every other issue that our busy schedules bring. You can usually pick one up for around $25 or Sanity often has a 2 for $40 deal. I personally recommend "Hart of Dixi", "Arrow", "Revenge", "The Black List", "Veronica Mars" and "Mcleod's Daughters".

Perfume comes from a HUGE price range these days, but if you hit your local discount chemist they usually have some good brands at great prices. I personally love Hally Berry's Pure Orchid which can be purchased for around that $25 mark. It has a beautiful sweet subtle scent.

Between $60- $80

A new pair of jeans is another lasting "feel good" gift! Every time she wears them she will instantly get a boost as she will look and feel great! Jeans can be a little tricky because to get a really good pair that fits perfectly-you really need to try them on. 

So maybe opt for a gift voucher at Jeans West or Just Jeans.
Now if you really want to spoil Mum, watch the kids for around 3 hours and send her to the hair salon. This has a very long lasting feel good effect. The time out and adult conversation will make her feel human again. Sitting in the air conditioning having a cuppa in peace without the kids demanding everything and anything from her, maybe catch up on some light reading from her favourite magazine (which there is never time to do at home) and leaving with a fresh new hair cut, or style, a head massage and a wash with the good shampoo, a colour rejuvenation and maybe some foils will make her feel like she is worth a million bucks and this could last up to six weeks!

On my personal wishlist this Christmas is a Fitbit Flex- wireless activity and sleep tracker. I have been wanting one for so long. For roughly between $118 and $130 this simple wristband tracks steps, distance, and calories burned. At night, it tracks sleep quality and wakes you silently in the morning. Check the lights to monitor progress towards personal goals. It’s the motivation Mum may need to get out and be more active. And she will thank you when she is feeling more energized and pride in reaching her targets.

Well that is it from me. Mums... please comment, what else is on your wish list... Someone might be searching for inspiration for your Christmas gift. Here is your chance to drop that hint ;-)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Vegetables in tiny tummies and peace at the dinner table.

I have come to realise that I don't hold a similar view as most parents with regards to how to handle children and the dinner routine. I know this by witnessing multiple other friends and the way they handle the situation and also after many debates within my own family and their views on the matter. I don't in anyway judge the way other people negotiate tea time habits but I sometimes feel that others may silently question my lenience. My children don't have to eat all their tea before they are excused nor do they have to eat their vegetables.

This is something I have struggled with throughout Hannah's entire food eating journey. She has always been a light eater and a very fussy one at that. I have always been satisfied that she has eaten what she has because at least it is something in her tummy. I suppose I don't do myself any favors with regards to how other people may judge how I allow her to eat so little because I would rather serve up too much than not enough which makes it seem even more drastic then it really is. I often over estimate how much she will eat.

Many years ago I came across a book called Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld and I have been wanting it forever. Finally a few weeks ago I acquired it. As I was reading I found myself almost constantly nodding, this is exactly the way I have been thinking but have been unable to find the words! I just couldn't agree more with everything she was saying and it defended me and my point of view PERFECTLY!

As Jessica puts it so well I would like to make a few quotes from the pages:

"Forcing your kids to eat foods they hate only reinforces their distaste."

"Deceptively delicious" (or the concept of) "enables parents to give kids what they want and what they need at the same time. It acknowledges your kids' genuine dislikes without being confined by them. It empowers you to exert some legitimate control over what your children eat , without inviting the usual fights."

She then continues...

"Just as the most powerful lessons are the ones that aren't taught, the best parenting solutions are the ones that build good habits- invisibly."

The most important quote that rings so so true to me is:

"I want my kids to associate food and mealtimes with happiness and conversation, not power struggles and strife. With a little sleight of hand, you can make the issues of what your children will and will not eat disappear from the table."

Jessica Seinfeld, you are a genius! The book provides many tried and tested recipes; which even though I am a stickler for a good recipe to follow. This book cleared my foggy head space and my intentions from the beginning so I can purposely implement this strategy throughout all of my cooking and enhance my existing recipes.

The book advocates preparing and freezing a variety and small quantities of fruit and vegetable purees to add to your cooking wherever it might be disguised in colour and flavour, so your children can keep eating the food they love as well as obtain the vitamins and minerals their growing bodies need. Through out all of this still maintaining visible vegetables on the dinner plate but if they don't eat it... well it is not as big of a deal.

I have always sneaked in some grated carrot and or zucchini into my cooking but last night was the first time I tried out the purees. I added cauliflower puree into our mashed potato and butternut squash puree to our gravy and it worked! Hannah ate it all none the wiser. 

Here's to many more happier, healthier, peaceful dinner times in our home!

*I know this theory and post may be a little controversial and I know there are a lot of people out there who may have strong opinions about children eating their vegetables. I invite you to comment your point of view, but please be open minded and keep comments constructive and encouraging. -Teagan