Monday, November 30, 2009

Ideas for getting in the Spirit

If you want some ideas for some cool activities during December check out the list I compiled over on my other blog: SeeShareRemember for Holidays in Hand.

Stephen Donald's Smallest Fan?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Styracosaurus Willy





Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fish and Chip Friday

Last Friday we had the Dawson's over for tea it was pretty cool Alyssa and Brody were coming for a sleepover but had swimming after school so Jozlyn dropped them over bring fish and chips with her... she even shouted us which was a pretty sweet deal.... it's been almost a year since we had 10 people in our lounge. Our lounge is pretty small but it's still feels good with all those people in it.

We had ice cream for dessert it was quite good apparently...

Good stuff!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


First of all an apology to anyone who I forgot to tell it was the Hasbro sale this past Saturday. Secondly an apology who is now wondering how they are going to feed their family because I did tell them it was the Hasbro sale this past Saturday.

We went.

We went crazy.

I arrived 30 minutes before the 9:30am opening to join the end of a 200m long queue. Luckily they started letting people in 15 minutes earlier.

Goodness knows why I never thought to take photos- it's more than a sale, it's an experience.

Les arrived with the kids 15 minutes after me to join a 350m queue. The kids came down to me and we waited about 15 minutes before we got in and the shopping frenzy began. I told them we were going to shop fast and then get out which we did even though we were quick we still had to join a decent sized queue for the check out.

By the time we got out Les still had about 75 metres of queue ahead of him, needless to say he didn't bother going in.

The prices were 'ok' and the kids had walked in there with loaded wallets and Christmas cash from my parents.

$350 later we walked out with 3 BIG bags of toy and game stash. Lucky for me only $150 of that was 'our' money and the rest was the kids. :-). Best scores were
  • The parents getting a huge Tonka Truck thingee for Will's birthday/Christmas this will rock in the new sandpit.
  • A really good big Tonka Truck for our Christmas Wishing Tree gift... someones wee dude is going to be happy with that come Christmas day.
  • Some new games for the games cupboard.
Here's Merenia with her new Littlest Pet Shop Scores...

Kieran got a big Nerf Gun...

We got Brody a cool plane Transformer...

and Alyssa a Hannah Montana puzzle.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tiny and free or dirt cheap

I've got a request for my thrifting, garage sale-ing and gifted shopper friends and those who have like me a stash of random stuff that they may or may not one day find a use for... I am looking for teeny weeney tiny toys and childrens things.... think the contents of victorian england toy shop window in miniature with a tree and a toy soldier, bike, sled, dolls, books, trains, teddies etc... Now I can't stress enough my two key points TINY I mean tiny and cheap (50cents) or even better FREE!

I will pay costs and postage... but don't spent more than five bucks in any one lot without texting me or something. All and any help much appreciated!


Meeting Miss Tiny

On Friday we finally got to catch-up with Wendy and meet the sweet and precious Miss Tiny.
It makes you realise just how much some people have grown doesn't it!

She's beautiful of course!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

According to Will...

What do you clean your ears with?

A Cotton Bug.

The Weekend's Activities

We spent our third Saturday with the Dawsons this past weekend. And a decent hunk of the day was spent making muffin tin advent calendars. Everyone took a turn to design 6 magnets (well Will only did 2 and that was hard work).

Both Hunter and Alex liked using the tools the best.

The completed magnets were then placed on the mini muffin pans.

These two are the Dawsons....

And these the Stockleys...

In the end we turned ours around and strung them up with a ribbon.

Of course we filled them with lollies first...

Monday, November 23, 2009

HiH: Pt 1 Christmas Values

I have signed up to do Jessica Spragues 'Holidays in Hand' Class online (I am now 8 days 'behind' but lets not talk about that). The first assignment is to look at my/our 'holiday values' and come up with some goals related to that, hence this post.

Part one is to define our holiday values; Those things we treasure most, and the hopes we have for ourselves and our families during the holiday season. We were asked to think of some phrases or sentences that describe OUR family's holiday values. What matters most to us. What values do we hope to instill in our family.

We were given a list of words to prompt our ideas which I narrowed down to these;

  • peace
  • family
  • tradition
  • togetherness
  • magic
  • spirit
  • laughter
  • food
  • sweets
  • stockings
  • lights
  • ornaments
  • gratitude
  • sharing
  • merry
  • giving
  • appreciating
  • reflecting
  • memorable
  • joyful

And we were asked to think of intentions like - "I would like my family to be together more during the holidays." or "I would like to reach out to those less fortunate." When you've got a list of your values - what's important to you - you can move on to creating specific goals from them.

Thinking on this I realise how much of this stuff we already have sorted which is pretty cool.

When we got back from Australia we did have a plan to do turn about between Stockley Family (Te Aroha), Smith Family (Christchurch/Dunedin) and Christmas at home in Auckland. But over time things change... it's an expensive undertaking to head all the way south and we can't really afford it. And heading to Te Aroha isn't a hell of a lot of fun as the family there is quite fragmented and we feel pressured and pulled in lots of directions. We have also struggled with spending Christmas just as a family of 5 though and really feel like a Christmas Day at home is a lot like a glorified Sunday with good food and new toys. We have been really fortunate the last two years to have been able to spend the past two Christmases with the Rae's but that is not possible anymore so we've been considering our options.

Before Christmas day we have various traditions that are really important:

  • We always send Christmas cards- it's a really important way of telling our family and friends each year that no matter how much we haven't been in touch they are still important to us. The kids do them for their friends as well.
  • We always have advent calendars- it's a big part of getting into the spirit and anticipating the cool stuff to come.
  • Last year we started a Daily December album traditions which goes a long way to helping us be aware of the season, to reflect on it and capture the memories.
  • We try and put up our tree and decorate the house on the first weekend in December- I love decorating! The kids have trees for their own rooms as well. We all have balls with our names on the tree.
  • We always get at least one gift to put under the K-mart Wishing tree. Last year we did pressies for a Mum and Child at the Women's refuge as well.
  • I've always lamented the fact that school finishes too close to Christmas this year it's a bit earlier so I am hoping to do some cool stuff with the kids- baking and such.
  • We have our annual family photo with the big red dude at the mall.
  • Roast Chicken for Christmas Eve.
  • And a trip out after dark to check out the local neighbourhood light displays.
  • Then we set up the video camera and head for bed... Santa moves so fast you can't see him but the presents are static so you see them building up under the tree!

On the big day....

  • Ideally we'd like to spend the day with extended family or friends.
  • We have various traditional presents, including starting with the stockings on the end of the kids beds.
  • We have pared down the amount of 'stuff' that is under the tree over the years as well. We have always told our kids that we have to send the money to Santa for the presents- and we can only send so much so.....
  • We have various food traditions including a cooked breakfast with french toast on the BBQ. Ham, new potatos, salad, pavlova, fruit punch for lunch and budget allowing shrimp cocktails for starters... leftovers for dinner. :-)
  • We like a mix of being able to just relax and enjoy the company and our new presents.
  • And doing some fun interactive stuff with the kids, outside and in.
  • We place calls to parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters.
We also have a DVD day tradition on Boxing day. Chill out day.

So when I look at that list from the first section I can see that the areas we are lacking or missing are gratitude, appreciation, reflection, and family.

Values Become Goals

So from that I would say that over the years we have refined our process down to something that works. My goal is to carry on as per usual with the following add-on's

  1. Spend some more time reading together from our collection of Christmas books and looking at Christmas/Family specific scrapbook albums and pages to prompt some reflection and discussion.
  2. Allot each of the kids a small sum of money to purchase gifts for the other four members of the family and let them do it of their own accord (except Will of course).
  3. Do a few more activities in the lead-up to Christmas to fulfil 3 goals; 1. togetherness, 2. fun 3. reaching out to our community. (Something like the Christmas Wish Scheme we have in Dunedin. Some Christmas cards for the old folks home or some home baking for a resident in the old folks village around the corner).
  4. In the long term we need to find a way to spend time with family and friends that works for us all.
I asked Les to complete the same task and unsurprisingly he approached it differently here are the goals he came up with...

I would like my family to be more at peace with each other.
I would like to extend our circle of friends
I would like people to feel welcome when they meet us.
I would like us to build a family spirit, where we all work together to keep us all safe and repel those would wish any harm on any of us.
I would like to hear the sound of laughter (not Merenia’s fake laughing though) more around the house.
Christmas has always meant great food in my life, and I’d like it to continue.
We already have a great life and should savour and appreciate it a bit more.
I would like Christmas to be memorable for my children and wife for all the right reasons.
Christmas is about the giving and not necessarily getting.

What do you do....

...when you run out of Cheese in your Le Snack?

Have some good old Maggi Soup dip of course!

(Mini whisk optional).

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Twenty Three Part 2

We are getting to a point where if the Mama of the house wants something specific there are trade-offs to be made. Like- "You get to take 20 photos of me and I......

.... get to take 61 photos of you and associated other furniture, carpet surroundings and various other too blurry to decipher items."

What ever works I say.

Twenty Three

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Get out of trouble free eyes

The little Mona Lisa Smile doesn't do any harm either!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ambury Farm Day

If a picture really is worth a 1000 words then there are 14000 in this post alone! We went to the Ambury Farm day a few weeks back and had a great time. The Farm is one of the Auckland Regional Council Parks and most of the activities were free to do.

What blew me away was the huge diversity of families that were at the park. I was waiting for Les and the kids to do the Horse and carriage ride and got to stand right beside the way in for the vast majority of people. There was a huge number of nationalities. There were all socio-economic groups and age brackets represented. There were blended families and single parent families. There were grandparents and friends and so on and so forth. I would have loved to have set up a little booth offering to take and email photos of the families to them as they came in.... the variety would have rocked!