Posted in Family Life, Family Time, Parenting

Have your photo taken with 3D animals thanks to Google

This morning we came across this wonderful feature from Google, which allows 3D animals to appear on my phone screen with an easy search.

This easy to use feature allows your phone to place 3D animals within your camera view finder in real life scale.

Whilst this is not a new concept, with so many children worldwide on lockdown due to the Covid-19 corobavirus pandemic, I thought I would share this fun feature with you to keep the kids entertained.

You will need:

  • An android smartphone running 7.0 or higher or an iphone running iOS 11 or later
  • Google chrome for Android/iOS

How to use the function

1. Open Google chrome and type the animal name in the search bar.

2. When the search opens opt the view in 3D option.

3. The screen will open, asking to you to point the camera screen to the floor.

4. Once it has scanned an area, the chosen animal appears in the camera lens.

5. To take a photo have your child stand in front of the camera and direct them to make the image look like they are interacting with the animal.

What animals can you search?

Searching for any of the following animals will give you the option of bringing them into your home in high resolution 3D.

  • Alligator
  • Angler fish
  • Brian bear
  • Cat
  • Cheetah
  • Dog
  • Duck
  • Eagle
  • Emperor penguin
  • Goat
  • Hedgehog
  • Horse
  • Lion
  • Macaw
  • Octopus
  • Pug
  • Giant panda
  • Rottweiler
  • Shark
  • Shetland pony
  • Snake
  • Tiger
  • Turtle
  • Wolf

To add to the experience and entertainment level, this zoo like list of animals also include realistic grunts, growls and groans.

This would make a wonderful addition to a homeschool lesson, is a fabulous way to pass the time during quarantine or lockdown and best of all you don’t have to view the animal in AR, you can see each of the animals in 3D on your Google search page.

Which is your favourite animal?

Posted in Education, Family Life, Family Time, Parenting, Tweens & Teens

A list of virtual tours, field trips and live cams around the world

Schools are closing early in 2 days all around South Africa, and many parents are wondering how to both work and entertain children whilst respecting the social distancing needed to help curb the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

One of the ways that you can keep your children entertained and learning is through the use of virtual tours, live cams and virtual field trips around the world.

I have compiled a list for you and will keep adding to the list as we discover new amazing places to visit

Animals

1. Aquarium

Two oceans aquarium

Monterey bay aquarium

Seattle aquarium

2. Zoo

The San Diego zoo

Smithsonian National zoo

Houston Zoo

Woodland zoo

Brno zoo

zoo Atlanta

Milwaukee zoo

Indianapolis zoo

3.Farm

Farm tours – A list of some Canadian farm tours:-

  • Milk & cheese
  • Dairy cow farms
  • Grain farms
  • Sheep farm
  • Mink farm
  • Egg farm
  • Egg processing facility
  • Canadian feed mills
  • Oat farm
  • Apple orchard
  • Pig farm

4. In the wild

African safari

Art

The Louvre

The national gallery of art – American art gallery

Interesting Places

1.South Africa

A virtual drive through Baviaanskloof

2. Around the world

Africa
The great wall of china
Yellowstone national park

Panoramas of the world – a variety of interesting places around the world

Mount Everest

The secrets of Easter island

3. Geography

Explore an estury

Museums

Colonial Williamsburg – American history museum

The Smithsonian – American natural science museum

John Muir exhibit – Anerican naturalist and conservationist

The museo Galileo – museum dedicated to Galileo

Boston children’s museum

Du page children’s museum

Paso Robles children’s museum

The virtual toy museum

Heins history centre – toys of the 50’s, 60’s & 70’s

Lincoln children’s museum

Museum of play

Marx toy museum

Andersonville – Confederate military prision during the American civil war

Space

Mars

This is an on going list and I will add new resources often. Check back regularly or join the mailing list to get news of when new resources are added

Posted in All about Mamma bear, Family Life, Family Time, Life with my bears, Parenting

If you see a mom playing with her child capture the moment for her

Today I popped over to a friend and we decided to take the boys for a bike ride.

Eskom was treating us to a few hours load shedding and my phone was at home, uncharged, which it normally never is.

We still remarked at how neither of us could record the moment as we didn’t have our phones.

At some point Hamish wanted a different bike so she ran back, while I watched the boys and ,not only grabbed the bike but her phone as well.

Boys on bikes
A fun ride … photo by @parentingbarely

It was a fun 30 minutes and we spent more time running after the two boys than we did walking down the path. ( Someone remind me just how fast threenagers can ride those little push bikes)

The boys were excited and we were truly just in the moment as the zipped and zoomed down the path.

She managed to grab a few pictures and I thought I’d pop her a message after Hamish had a nap and grab a picture keepsake of his playdate with his bestie.

What I got was this image ….

Boys and mom
Running with the boys … photo by @parentingbarely

I stopped and looked at it again and again.

Not because I was, as I normally am, highly critical of my extra weight or flabby arms. Not because I had no make up on or that my bra was at home. Not because I am running in pumps or sporting a super sporty mom bun.

No!

I stopped and stared because I don’t remember the last time someone caught such a candid photo of my very real and exhausting, totally fun and exciting mom life.

So, regardless of the fact that I am positive you can see the grey in my hair and my butt gives Kim Kardashian some competition ( in size not curves lol) ….

I think it’s my favourite photo this year.

Why?

So often as moms we capture everyone else. We are the memory makers and keepers. We go out of our way to preserve a moment, capture a sliver of time or take a photo because we know someone will want to look back at it someday.

But when it comes to photos of ourselves, we are not as generous with our thoughtfulness.

Our own photos are mostly selfies or posed portraits after we have bribed the teenager, removed the toddler from strangling the cat and threatened our husbands to ” Just smile damnit!”

My photos

I spend much time with Hamish but very few moments where I’m in the photo. Even fewer of the moments where I am playing with him, reading to him or baking mud pies.

We have no images of the countless books we read, or the bedtime snuggles. I have no photos of the towers we build or the flowers we have grown.

These are the moments I treasure. The moments he will one day look back on. These will be the unphotographed moments.

These are the moments, as moms we will miss and long for. These are the moments that as we, one day, glance through those albums of our child engaged with everyone …but us, we will wish someone had thought to take for us.

Give a mom a priceless moment

So, when someone catches a glimpse into my real mom moments ….that to me is priceless.

If you see a mom playing with her child, capture that moment for her . Help her see just how beautiful she is as she meets her child in play.

Posted in Family Life, Family Time, Health & Wellness, Parenting

How much water should your child drink?

Water is best
Water is the best drink to quench a thirst

Water is the best drink to quench a thirst, especially for busy little preschoolers and toddlers.

Water is healthy

Not only is it refreshing, it is also good for your child as it contains no sugars and so doesn’t damage their teeth.

The flouride in tap water, helps to develop strong teeth and bones.

Whilst fruit juices are often seen as a healthier choice because they contain vitamin C, there is a large amount of sugar and kilojoules in fruit juice. A 250ml cup of frunit juice can contain up to 6 teaspoons of sugar.

According to HealthyKids.nsw.gov.au ….

Researchers found that children aged between 4 and 12 years who drank 500ml or more of fruit juice or cordial per day were twice as likely to be overweight or obese as children who consumed none.

How much water should your child drink?

So, how much water should your child be drinking?

The recommended daily amount of water to drink is :

  • Baby – babies can actually consume too much water and this can be life threatening so it’s always best to consult your paediatrician as to how much water is best for your baby. From about a year they can have up to 1 cup of water a day.
  • Toddler – 2 to 4 glasses
  • Preschooler – 4 glasses
  • Child age 5 to 8 years – 5 glasses
  • Child age 9 to 12 years – 7 glasses
  • Teenagers 13+ years – 8 to 10 glasses

We don’t always feel thirsty when our bodies need fluid, so it’s recommended to drink water regularly throughout the day.

You should also offer your child more water if they are exercising or on a hot day.

How to get your child to drink more water

We are lucky that Hamish loves water and chooses it over most drinks as a first option but my other children were not as easy to give water to.

For me the first way is to lead by example. If your child sees you drinking more water or choosing water as a first option to quench your thirst, they are likely to do the same.

Pack a water bottle for each outing and offer that first. In summer it’s nice to freeze your water bottle at night if you are taking it with the next day, that way it thaws and stays nice and cold throughout the day.

Keep cold water in the fridge and accessible to your child, like in a fun water dispenser in the kitchen.

Use smaller glasses when offering fruit juices or cordials or water down any juice.

Do your children like water or do you struggle to get them to drink any? Can you share some great ways to get kids to drink more water in the comments below?
Posted in Cape Town - Things to see & do, Family Life, Family Time, Life with my bears, Parenting

Our mom & me date – Two oceans aquarium

Last year Hamish and I would spend most Fridays on a mom & me date exploring new places or finding new adventures.

These moments have become extra special as my workload increases and he gets older.They are times where, the focus is truly on just us.

I try to choose places I know he will enjoy and we make a full morning our of it.

First 2020 date

We started our first Mom & me dates quite late into January this year, and on Friday I decided we needed an outing to our favourite place ….Two Oceans Aquarium

We both enjoy nature and could spend every day at the aquarium given half a chance.

There is always something new to see or discover.This year I’ve promised myself, I’m buying membership as I visit so often.

Our morning started off with me rushing to get a few things done in order to leave.

I don’t drive so we travel by Mycity bus and it’s an almost hour long drive into the city. Hamish enjoys the drive, chatting to the commuters and looking out the window to see the view.

Just before we were ready to get out the door, a courier dropped these adorable mom and me matching shirts from Fabulous Finds Botique . We quickly changed into them and started our adventure.

The aquarium

The aquarium is always exciting and we headed to the penguins first. They are just the cutest.

Not only does Hamish enjoy seeing the African penguin in it’s rocky shore environment but he also loves to watch the others dive and swim in and out the kelp forest.

In the penguin exhibit, there is a row of penguin cutouts that name several penguin species and tell you their height.

Each visit I take a photo of Hamish next to the penguin he is as tall as. He was thrilled to find out that he is now as tall as a king penguin.

Did you know that there is a fairy penguin?

Let’s play

After a visit to the penguins we headed to the I & J kiddy area where they have set up an amazing yellow submarine for the kids to be able to play in and watch the fish.

Hamish spent some time building Lego, drawing, doing magnetic puzzles, enjoying the sand pit and putting on his own puppet show for me.

We had our snack and headed back to enjoy the exhibits but not before following the cute trail of fish on the floor.

Learning

Our first stop was the fossil dig, where Hamish became a junior paleontologist and discovered a giant coelacanth fossil.

Next we went over to the touch pool and felt the sea anenome, kelp, sea weed and sea stars .

For the first time Hamish was interested in the microscope exhibit and he got to touch shark and skate eggs, called mermaid purses. Afterwards we went over to the stingray tank to see if we could identify the skate among them.

Sharks

We strolled around looking at all the tanks, and I realised we never saw an octopus so that’s on our list to find next time.

But Hamish can now identify easy sea creatures like sea stars, sea anemones, sea weed and coral. So, as we looked into the tanks we discussed the items in the background that we found.

Eventually we found the sharks.

These powerfull creatures almost glide in the ocean.

Of course my three-nager couldn’t resist singing Baby shark.

Kelp forest

I think to me personally, the kelp forest is the most beautiful exhibit.

With it’s giant fish swimming past the tall kelp, penguins diving through the green tinged water and the sun shining down casting light.

I always find a reason to linger longer, look a little closer and stare up through the waters towards the surface.

Nemo

Lastly, before ending our visit and heading home, we stopped by the nemo tank and Hamish climbed under to get a photo.

As we sat on the bus going home, Hamish looked at me and without missing a beat said “I love you mom” and we both knew, with hearts full, it was an amazing day.

Do you go on dates with your kids? Share some of your favourites with me in the comments below
Posted in Blog posts, Crafts, Family Life, Family Time, Parenting

6 family activities to start the year

The New year is always a good time to introduce new ideas or concepts to your family.

Here are 6 family activities that you can introduce over the next few days as you welcome in 2020 that will enhance your parent / child bond and make family time fun.

Many of these ideas could become annual traditions and would make wonderful keepsakes to look back at.

1. Family Brainstorm session

Sit the family at the table and using a large sheet of paper with the date in the centre, write down all the things you as a family would like to accomplish by the end of 2020.

This could be simple activities like plant a vegetable garden or more long term plans like save for a Disney land holiday.

2. Resolution journals

Give each family member a blank book and explain that these are their New year journals.

In here they are free to express themselves, use any medium to draw or write, add stickers or cut out pictures,add photos ect.

They can record :-

  • Their new year resolutions
  • Daily moments of gratitude
  • People they want to spend more time with
  • New skills or activities they want to try
  • Books they want to read
  • Places they want to visit
  • Or a toy wish list

3. Thank you card day

The chances are that by New year the kids are bored and looking for something to do. Give each child some stationary and card and let them make Thank you cards to friends and family for Christmas gifts recieved.

You can then visit the post office and use snail mail to post off their cards.

In days where everything is online, this would make a wonderful suprise to an older relative.

4. Interview

Interview your children at the beginning of each year.

I love looking back at these interviews to see how my children have grown.

You could ask questions like :

  • Name
  • Age
  • Year
  • Where do you live?
  • Favourite food
  • Favourite colour
  • Favourite movie
  • Favourite book
  • Who is your best friend?
  • Who are your pets?
  • School
  • Grade
  • Name one word to describe yourself
  • Whatfoyou like doing?
  • What are you good at?
  • What do you like doing?
  • Where is your favourite place to go?

5. Memory jar

A memory jar is similar to a time capsule.

In a clean jar, let your child add small things like photos, trinkets,small shells, a movie ticket., ect throughout the year. Seal these and store them until your child is older.

6. Wishing tree

Make a wishing tree by painting a dry tree branch that has been planted in a pot.

Cut several paper star shapes for each family member and let them write their wishes for the new year.

Attach these to the tree with sewing cotton.

You can remove them as soon as the wish is ganted.

I would love to know if you currently do any of these fun activities with your family or if you have new activities we could try. Letme know in the comments below.

Posted in Christmas, Family Time, Giving back, Parenting

What to say when your child no longer believes in Santa

Living in a home where my kids range in ages can get tricky when trying to keep the Christmas magic alive and some don’t believe in Santa any more.

I remember threatening not to bring gifts to the older kids if they dared breathe a word to their younger still innocent siblings.

So, when I found this beautifully written explanation online I couldn’t help but share it with everyone.

To me this message is the perfect way to explain why we keep the Santa Christmas magic alive .

What to say when your child no longer believes in Santa

**ATTENTION ALL PARENTS WHO MIGHT NEED TO TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT SANTA 🎅🏼 **

Son: “Dad, I think I’m old enough now. Is there a Santa Claus?”
Dad: “Okay, I agree that you’re old enough. But before I tell you, I have a question for you. You see, the “truth” is a dangerous gift. Once you know something, you can’t un-know it. Once you know the truth about Santa Claus, you’ll never again understand and relate to him as you do now. So my question is: Are you sure you want to know?”
*Brief pause*
Son: “Yes, I want to know.”
Dad: “Okay, then I’ll tell you. Yes, there is a Santa Claus.”
Son: “Really?”
Dad: Yes, really, but he’s not an old man with a beard in a red suit. That’s just what we tell kids. You see, kids are too young to understand the true nature of Santa Claus, so we explain it to them in a way that they can understand. The truth about Santa Claus is that he’s not a person at all; he’s an idea. Think of all those presents Santa gave you over the years. We bought those for you. We watched you open them. And did it bother us that you didn’t know? Of course not! In fact it gave us great pleasure. You see, Santa Claus is THE IDEA OF GIVING FOR THE SAKE OF GIVING, without thought of thanks or acknowledgement.
When I saw that woman collapse in town last week and I called for help, I knew that she’d never know that it was me that called an ambulance. I was being Santa Claus when I did that.”
Son: “Oh.”
Dad: “So now that you know, you’re a part of it too. You have to be Santa Claus now. That means you can never tell a young kid the secret, you have to help us select Santa presents for them, and most important, you have to look for opportunities to help other people. Got it?” ☺️

Look out for and help each other this Christmas🎄🎅 and… always be kind ❤💕

( original author unknown)

How did you explain to your kids? Please share in the comments .
Posted in Brands we love, Cape Town - Things to see & do, Christmas, Family Life, Family Time, Parenting

How to book convenient Holiday road travel with the Travelstart buses platform

With the holidays here and many families looking to unite and visit with relatives in other cities, Travelstart have launched a new online bus booking platform to take the stress out of road travel.

The Travelstart buses platform,which was launched this November, will not only save you time and money but will allow you to compare bus tickets from reputable competing companies.

Travellers can now enjoy the flexibility of finding tickets suited to their budget by searching, booking and paying for bus travel from numerous suppliers within South Africa or to neighboring countries.

With the Travelstart buses platform you can book up to 10 passengers in a single booking and filter your search by destination, bus company, coach, class and price.

To make payment convenient, you can pay by Credit card or at your local Pick n Pay countrywide. There is no more standing in long queues, your bus ticket is sent directly to your inbox.

Destinations

Traveling in South Africa you will be able to use the best bus companies, ensuring you arrive safely at your destination.

Whether you are traveling on a one way ticket or return , you can book for major cities like Cape Town and Durban or to smaller towns like Harrismith.

Buses

The two most popular travel routes by bus are :

Johannesburg – Durban – Johannesburg

Cape Town – Johannesburg – Cape Town

And these routes are serviced by the following reputable bus companies:

  • Eldo coaches
  • Citiliner
  • Intercare
  • Greyhound
  • Eagle liner
  • Intercity Xpress
  • And African People Mover ( APM)

Reginal Destinations

For those wishing to travel a little further to visit family in Zimbabwe for example or who wish to do a holiday trip outside of South Africa, you are able to purchase reginal tickets and travel safely to destinations like Harare, Bulawayo, Maputo and Windhoek.

The most popular reginal route is :

Johannesburg – Harare – Johannesburg

How to book

  • Visit the Travelstart bus booking page
  • Choose your departure point and destination
  • If you are only wanting to travel to the destination and do not require a return ticket, click the “one way” option
  • Fill in your travel dates and the amount of tickets required
  • Choose your preferred bus company to travel with
  • Once you have selected the bus company that offers you the best value for your budget, head to the final page and enter your personal details
  • Provide your credit card details and pay

Your booking confirmation and a reference number will be sent to you via email and SMS.

How to book with Travelstart buses

How to redeem your ticket

Once you have recieved your ticket via email you will need to print it. You will use this, along with your ID to board the bus. Your name on your ticket will need to match your ID in order to board the bus.

On the ticket you will also find the information you will need on where to board the bus and at what time.

Notes

  • When booking your tickets with children, please note that infants travel free but are limited to one infant per accompanied passenger.
  • If you have made an error on your ticket or need to cancel a booking you can contact Travelstart on 087 650 1369 or via email at bus@travelstart.com

Booking a bus ticket these holidays just became a whole lot easier with Travelstart buses and family can reunite this Christmas by purchasing a ticket online with the Travelstart bus booking option.

Posted in Brands we love, Christmas, Education, Family Life, Family Time, Giving back, Parenting, preschoolers, Tweens & Teens

Superbook brings back the heart of Christmas

As a mom I love watching my children enjoy all the magic of Christmas.

We decorate the tree and make our gingerbread houses. We fill our stockings, put up the lights,remember to move the Christmas elf and enjoy the many other traditions around this holiday.

But

As a mom I also very much want my children to grow up understanding the real meaning of Christmas and know that Jesus is the heart of this magical celebration.

So how do I do that?

Looking after their hearts

When my older children were younger we would prepare for the festive season by attending Sunday school and reading a chapter of Luke in the Bible a day.

We made nativity scenes and told the story of the birth of Jesus.

Often on Christmas day I would read to them from their children’s Bible all about the story of Jesus.

As my children grew older, these traditions faded and aside from my lonely nativity scene and a few Christimes carols there was very little to remind them of the true reason to celebrate.

A new beginning

After Hamish was born, it became important to me to once again share the true meaning behind Christmas and each year I’ve tried to include him so that he would understand that Christmas is so much more than just a day of gifts.

Last year was his first Christmas, at 2 years old, that I felt he could understand.

Last year I bought him a new Children’s Bible and we read the Christmas story before making a homemade advent spiral using some tree angels and a lot of imagination.

Each day we would move the Mary and Joseph up a bead and he would tell me it was nearly time for Jesus to be born.

But was this enough?

A heart for God

Would these simple acts over a month a year bring my child’s heart to God?

I was convinced I needed more and as I sat pondering this I came across the CBN Superbook advert on Facebook.

An invitation to experience the Bible like bever before.

For just R99 I could invest in :

  • A DVD combo with two stories (The First Christmas & The birth of John the Baptist)
  • Family discussion guide which help to open discussion and extend on the teachings behind Christmas time and how to apply the scriptural lessons in their little lives.
  • Stickers of the Superbook character

To order your own click here

Screen time

We were away the weekend Hamish recieved his DVD package and on our first Monday home I settled him just before nap time and told him we were going to watch the story of Jesus.

He was intrigued from the first minute. The characters, Chris, Joy and Gismo, are fun and relatable. Modern day kids just like him that set off on a big adventure to discover the Bible through animation.

Gizmo the lovable robot is Hamish’s favourite character and I was impressed that the Biblical character’s dialogue is mostly taken from scripture, whilst great care has been placed on the careful attention to detail within the illustrations.

Children love animated stories and I know how much knowledge Hamish picks up from the other animated stories he watches so I was certain he would walk away from this story understanding the birth of Jesus.

I was also sure he would have many question and was really greatful for the famiy discussion sheet that I pre read and assisted me to explain the story to his little heart.

About Superbook

The Superbook mission is to take the stories of the Bible to children of all ages and has been broadcast in over 90 countries and translated into 50 languages.

Superbook is created by an award-winning team of artists and storyteller, who have worked on some amazing Disney movies like Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and Mulan.

Each episode invites you into the pages of the Bible to experience God’s word as never before through captivating animation videos.

Now, children of all ages can learn to apply scriptural principles to their daily lives by watching the biblical events unfold on a TV, and through the Superbook App on a computer,tablet or Phone.

The App is aimed at children 6 -12 years but Hamish who is 3 has been able to play some of the games.

We watch the videos, discover the heroes of the Bible, enjoy the daily devotions and have fun learning new fun facts.

You can download the Superbook App from Aapple App store, Google Play or Amazon Apps or for more information http://www.Superbook.CBN.com

A new Tradition

We will certainly be watching The first Christmas many times before Christmas and have added it to our Christmas traditions.

But

More than that, I now have a little boy who understands the true meaning behind Christmas time and I will be using the Superbook App, videos and activity books daily to build his heart and character.

Posted in Christmas, Family Time, Life with my bears

Our Christmas Traditions

I love Christmas time.

It’s my absolute favourite time of the year. I love everything about Christmas, the hype, the kindness people suddenly possess and mostly the ability to unashamedly spoil my children.But, more than that, I love the numerous traditions that surround Christmas.

A history of traditions

As a child, I came from a family of few traditions and so no two Christmases were the same.In South Africa we don’t celebrate cold, TV Christmases with snow or elaborate decorating and so it never felt like a “real” Christmas to me.My first marriage was pretty much trial, error and trying to make ends meet and so as much as we tried to maintain some sort of tradition often we were just winging it each year.I always made a trifle and had my children sleep under the tree on Christmas eve, but other than that Christmas was as abundant and busy as the years bonus would allow.

My favourite traditions

Of course as the children grew so did their need or want of Christmas traditions and the day became a symbol for great food and new gifts.My silent traditions seeping in where I could still could.I’ve always had a mental list of all the things we would do as a family in preparation for Christmas day and would silently tick off those I had accomplished each Christmas.

This is my list :

1. Make and share handmade cards and gifts.

I had a shoe box where I collected stationary, glitter, coloured card and stickers over the months for the children to ue to make cards and gifts.I still prefer a homemade gift to a bought present.

2. Sleeping under the Christmas tree

This was my favourite thing to do. It started by accident, my children did not want to go to bed after we put the Christmas lights up one year, and so I let them sleep on the lounge floor that night.For many years they would decorate the tree on the 12th and make a family bed to fall asleep while the Christmas lights flickered.

3. Family tree decorating

Decorating the Christmas tree with 6 children is like letting Christmas puke on your house.There’s no order as each child creatively makes Christmas their own.Our Christmas trees were always a miss match of colourful, odd and handmade decor. Our trees were a true representation of our home …. busy.

4. Christmas baking

Christmas was the time to go all out as we baked biscuits, gingerbread men and later, when they were older gingerbread houses.There is something about the smell of cinnamon and ginger in a warm house that shouts Christmas.

5. My trifle

Each year I would construct a trifle I’d learnt to make in home economics class.This multi layered treat never lasted long and contained no alcohol.It is just layer upon later of sponge cake, caramel treat, mix tin fruit , ultramel and jelly that has been topped with Orley whip.

6. Christmas caroling

We would sing all the time. In the kitchen, while walking or just playing together.Although I always wanted to go door to door caroling we settled for beautiful carol services at church over Christmas time.

7. Christmas stockings

I love Christmas stockings and nothing fills my heart with more happiness than rows and rows of Christmas stockings.I would hand sew the children’s stockings each year and my favourite year is the year I hung 10 cheap gas store stockings up for my children and their cousins.

Last year I got to hang 14 stockings and my Christmas heart was in it’s happy place.

8. Advent calendar

The one item we never missed was an advent calendar.A cardboard box, brightly decorated with little windows opening to tiny chocolates each morning.Many times I would discover someone had opened all their windows during the night and gobbled up the chocolates by the 10th and that would end our advent attempt.

9. Nativity scene

A nativity scene is important to me as it represents the significance, history and meaning of Christmas.Some years we would make our nativity, other years I would bring out a little ceramic model.

10. Christmas candle

I’m not sure where I first decided we needed a Christmas candle and if I think back, my memory of my earliest candle is the year my grandmother passed.But I would walk the shops until I found the perfect candle.There was often nothing elaborate about the candle, but my Christmas candle shines for those we wish were at our table and so, many years later I still buy a new Christmas candle each year.

13. Look at the Christmas lights

Each year the kids and I would walk through the malls enjoying the Christmas lighs and decor.Some years we would drive to the centre of town to enjoy the large lights the council had hung.

14. String popcorn

The year my eldest child celebrated her first Christmas, I was at my father and my teen sister and step brother were trying to avoid the parents, I remember we had watched a happy family Christmas movie where the kids had been stringing popcorn and I decided there and then that regardless of our home we would have a happy Christmas .My children always loved this tradition, although they ate more than they strung.

15. Writing to Santa

Each year I would sit with the kids and we would page through the Checkers toy guide and they would write or draw long elaborate lists to Santa.This was also a great way for me to see what each of the 6 of them wanted.

18. Christmas hat’s and props

I’ve never needed a reason to dress up so we have always had a box of Christmas hats and props for the kids to dress up in.

19. Christmas clothing

As a young girl my gran would gift us a church outfit ( even though we never attended church as a family) and a blanket every Christmas eve.I fell into the same habit with my own children, leaving out the blanket and gifted them a new outfit to wear for Christmas day.

20. Christmas movies

Who doesn’t love a Christmas movie?To me the true Christmas season would start when all the hallmark movies came on.I had a large collection of kids DVDs that all centered around Christmas and as a bedtime treat the kids would get to watch one a night.

As my own children have gotten older and we’ve adjusted to new family dynamics we have changed or altered some traditions.After I had Hamish, the need to impliment those traditions, one again, became essential. Only this time I had a new husband to consider and we had to find a compromise on blending our traditions together.

Whilst I still keep all of the above traditions, I’ve also added these new ones for Hamish

1. 24 Christmas book advent

From last year I collected 24 books that have a Christmas theme and we read one each evening in December.

2.Reading Christmas story on Christmas day

I bought Hamish a beautiful Children’s bible and we will read him the Christmas story on Christmas day.This year I also have the Superbook DVD which tells the beautiful story of The first Christmas for him to watch.

5.leaving Santa his favourite milk and biscuits and a carrot for Rudolph

Santa works hard and so we want to say Thank you to him and Rudolph by first baking Santa some biscuits and leaving him one with a glass of milk and a carrot for Rudolph on Christmas eve.

6.Christmas eve box

I love this tradition and we have a wooden crate for Hamish. Each year we buy a premade kit which usually consists of:

  • a Nice list certificate
  • Santa button that he gets caught on the tree
  • Santa key to come inside and deliver gifts
  • Reindeer bell that Rudolph loses
  • letter writing kit
  • letter from Santa
  • Reindeer feed
  • and some treats.


7. Elf

Last year was the first year we did an elf on the shelf and everyone in the family was an immediate fan.I had great fun thinking up things for the elf to do over the month of December. Hamish couldn’t wait to see what the elf had done.I think this is my favourite tradition.

8. Santa cam

This year we have a specially made Santa cam that will be watching to see if Hamish is behaving.This is really just a decorated bauble.

There are many more small cute things each year and I’m sure the list will grow .

I’d love to hear about some of your favourite Christmas traditions.