52 photos – weeks 48 & 49

Well here I am again, posting two week’s worth of photos in one! I’ve been so busy getting through orders before th elast Christmas post day, I’ve not had chance to go anywhere near the blog, even less than usual. But anyway, better late than never as they say. Here they are being cheeky in a tent at a play group, and then cracking open the Christmas jumper season this week.IMG_4557 IMG_4569

52 photos – weeks 46 & 47

Looking back at my photos from the last week, I realise that I didn’t do a photo post last week – it was a very busy weekend with a craft fair on Saturday for me and Tom was playing the piano at church on Sunday morning so I had less time to think about it like I am now. But here are my favourite photos of the boys from the past 2 weeks. Andrew got to see Father Christmas at the craft fair; Granny was manning the stall whilst I went upstairs with him, and Grandad took the photo of us. Joel was fast asleep at that point, having been up since 4am, so he’ll have to wait until the Christmas party that we’re going to to see him – he probably won’t be too bothered anyway. Instead I thought this photo of Joel sitting next a monkey at soft play was rather apt – he’s my little monkey!

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Three soft plays – wot so funee?

With the Christmas holidays and moving house, writing about hilarious toddlerisms has slipped to the back of my mind. That’s not to say that Andrew hasn’t been coming up with them – if anything they come thicker and faster every day. Here’s a selection of the ones I remembered to write down…

For about a week before Christmas, Andrew got very into watching the film Snow Buddies. If you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing this, it’s a typical kids film – totally unbelievable and twee but quite cute and teaches a good ‘moral of the story’. At one point some puppies in a freight container fall out of an aeroplane and a parachute opens up to ensure they land safely. I know, I told you it was unbelievable! Andrew got very excited about this and jumped up and down shouting “Look, there’s a tent on that box, a bit like a hot air balloon, that’s funny..hahaha!” I can see his logic, it did look tent-ish, probably more like a tent than a parachute! The props department may well gave been on a tight budget.

Recently he’s become interested in what we’re going to eat for our next meal. I usually have some idea, even if I make up the exact dish as I go along when it comes to cooking. One evening, I was planning a cottage pie (well actually a poultryman’s pie as I use turkey mince), so I told him that when the inevitable question arose.

A: What we gunna have for tea?

Me: cottage pie

A: sausage pie?

Me: no, cottage pie

A: pottage pie?… is that like shepherd’s pie?

Me: no, COTTage pie, but it is like shepherds pie, that’s right!

A: ah…. like a house?

Me: yes, I see the link in your mind!

Our old flat wasn’t exactly well endowed with internet connectivity. It’s a long story, but even Virgin wouldn’t dig up our road, despite being in the middle of built-up Cambridge. We call it ‘narrowband’, you get the point. So often when watching youtube, particularly in the evening before tea, the connection would fail and we’d get lots of stop starting (or just stopping most of the time). I would explain to Andrew that our internet wasn’t working and we’d have to try again later or watch a DVD, which I knew would be a much more pleasurable viewing experience. One day, however, when he was watching a DVD, the picture started to jump, probably due to grubby fingerprints on the disc (can’t think how they got there!) So he exclaimed: “our internets are not working!”, to which my response was to try and explain that he was in fact watching a DVD. A quick wipe of the disc and all was right again – Andrew’s reaction: “Yay, our internets are working!” This isn’t the only example in his speech which shows that he thinks “internets” is a plural. I find this interesting; it’s like he’s heard “internet’s” a lot (as in “our internet’s not working” or “our internet’s gone wrong”), and reasoned that this ’s’ on the end means it’s a plural. That’s all I can think of right now at least.

Another (more fathomable) piece of toddler reasoning came in the form of his name for a pine wreath on a friend’s front door at Christmas: “Mummy look, it’s a Christmas circle!” Can’t argue with that – it looked like bits of Christmas tree made into a circle shape.

I love a bit of regional variation in language. My favourite example, having grown up in Coventry, is the bread roll – there are so many different words for this, depending on where you grew up, and only in Coventry is it a ‘batch’. Despite living here for a few weeks before our move to Birmingham (where the bread roll is a ‘cob’), I still haven’t heard Andrew say ‘batch’. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he does before we move, he’s like a linguistic sponge at the moment. Anyway, my point about Andrew here was his funny moment involving a fairy cake (as I would call it) or ‘bun’ as Daddy’s family, who live in Devon, call it. He was playing tea parties with Grandma, who asked if he’d like a bun with his cup of tea. His reply: “yes please, I’d like a bum with my cuppa tea!” Bit of a bum deal to get one of those with your tea time beverage if you ask me! To be fair though, I don’t think he’s heard them called ‘buns’ very often, at least not since he’s been able to talk back, as Daddy has accommodated to my word and we just call them (little or fairy) cakes.

On Christmas day, of course it was Andrew who liked playing with Joel’s new toy kitchen the most, and Joel who liked playing with Andrew’s new easel the most – this is one inevitable fact about similar aged siblings. Andrew’s attempt to coerce us into buying him one was thus:

“When I’m 8, I can have a rainbow…

When I’m 9, I can have a football…

When I’m 10, I can have a little cooker like Joel’s!”

If he’s willing to wait that long, I’m happy – he’ll no doubt go off the idea when he hits double figures. I too have no idea where the rainbow bit came from!

Soft play

And finally, one from the past week. We’ve found a fantastic soft play at a garden centre, and on Monday mornings parents/carers and toddlers can go for free as part of a scheme to help get them out of the house and meet others in the same situation. This was what I was talking with Granny about after she discovered it online, and as Andrew was there, we told him we would go to free soft play one day soon. Later, when I asked him what he wanted to do the next day, he requested: “I’d like to go to three soft plays” Wot so funee?

 

Wot So Funee?

We will rock you, rock you, rock you – Nativity play

No this post is nothing to do with the song by Queen! The title refers to the lullaby that Andrew and his friends sang in the nativity play at church on Sunday. This is the second year that the 18 months to 3 years group in Children’s Church has taken part in the annual spectacular that is the HT nativity play (HT = Holy Trinity, Cambridge). They were stable animals, who came on stage just after baby Jesus was born, and sang him a gentle song, the traditional lullaby of Little Jesus Sweetly sleep…

Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir
We will lend a coat of fur
We will rock you, rock you, rock you
We will rock you, rock you, rock you
See the fur to keep you warm
Snugly round your tiny form.

They’d been practising it in their Sunday morning sessions, and also at the Wednesday afternoon group that we go to at church. Most of them were a little stage struck, but it was very cute to see them all dressed as animals gathered around the manger whilst the music was playing. Andrew did do the rocking action with his arms, and uttered the odd word. I have a video, but as I don’t know whether all parents want their children online, I won’t post it here, nor photos with more than just my boys in.

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As parents, we’d simply been told that they would be stable animals, so it was up to us to choose their costume. It was funny how most ended up being a sheep – all those white/cream knitted wooly jumpers and fleece jackets came out, with various items of headgear to represent the sheepish ears and facial features! My attempt at a sheep head was to take a white knitted wooly bobble hat that we already had, and hand stitch some black ears on. These were made out of an old pair of tights – I cut the two feet off and stuffed them with the rest of the length of the leg on each side. So a bargain and simple to make sheep costume.

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After the play, there was a short talk given by one of the pastors, Diana, explaining more about the meaning of Christmas. She gave an illustration that I thought was very clever, so I thought I’d share it here. Jesus was born into the world as a gift to us from God, and there are three ways that we as humans tend to respond to this gift, which Diana illustrated by offering a beautifully wrapped-up gift to one of the other pastors, Matt…

1. We ignore Jesus (the gift) and get on with life without Him – this is like when Diana offered Matt the gift but he just stood there, silent and with arms crossed, and didn’t reply to any of her “here you go, here’s a present for you” offers.

2. We learn about who Jesus is and what he did when he was alive, but don’t go any further than this superficial understanding – this is like when Diana offered Matt the gift, and he acknowledged it, but was happy just to look at the wrapping paper, say how lovely and shiny it was, how pretty all the different colours were, and thank her for this nice wrapping paper.

3. We get to know Jesus as a personal Saviour, and believe that through His death and rising again we can draw near to God – this is like when Diana offered Matt the gift, he acknowledged it, and ripped open the wrapping paper, thanked her so much for the amazing gift, tried it on straight away (an adult-sized reindeer onesie!!), and showed much joy and appreciation of this kind present.

This Christmas, as we’re opening presents, I will remember this illustration, which reminds us why we give presents at this time of year – to celebrate the biggest gift that we have ever been given. How will you respond – 1, 2 or 3?

Audley End miniature railway – #CountryKids

Last weekend was action packed, especially considering we’re moving house soon! But as packing seems to be under control, it was great to be able to go to both the Mill Road Winter fair on Saturday (which I blogged about last week) and the Audley End miniature railway on Sunday. We’ve been meaning to go to Audley End for a couple of years now, since Andrew has been very into trains, but we’ve never quite got around to it, and there’s nothing like leaving a place to remind you to go and do all the stuff you always meant to do! Two of the boys’ Godparents had also offered to treat us to a trip out somewhere for Joel’s birthday present, so we thought this was just the place to meet up with them.

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The railway is open for rides in the spring and summer months, plus some special events in the Autumn and Winter at weekends, such as the Christmas specials in December. We knew the trains started at 11am, so we got there pretty much bang on 11am, though had we have known that the car park would be open before that, we probably would have arrived earlier because already there were quite a few families parked, getting out of their cars, and queuing up at the station. We met our friends and joined the queue, after we’d waited at the pedestrian level crossing for a train to go past, which Andrew was most fascinated with! We had to wait about 45 minutes in the queue, but fortunately all three kids were fine during that time, and it was a good chance for us all to catch up. As we got nearer the station, there was an elf walking about talking to the children and being generally friendly.

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Finally we were near the front of the queue and just made it onto the next train. Each little compartment in the carriages was just right for 2 adults and 2 children, though we don’t get to sit right next to our friends because we were the last on. But once we got going, this didn’t matter anyway because there was so much to see that we were looking out of the train the whole time. Andrew was fascinated, and barely smiled the whole time because he was concentrating so much on taking it all in and pointing out what he could see. I wasn’t sure how much Joel would like sitting still, but he absolutely loved it too, and was happy to sit still and look out, smiling all the time.

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All the way round there were little shelters with (toy) animals in, which were decorated up with tinsel and other Christmas bits. We also saw some little wooden houses and signs naming the places we were riding through. The route is mainly through the woods, and it definitely had a magical Christmas feeling to it with all these things we could see between the trees. There were some tunnels too, which the boys enjoyed, though I wasn’t too keen on as you could really smell the smoke and steam of the train as we chugged through them.

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Then we started to slow down, though we weren’t near the station. As we came to a halt, to the side of the train was a large hut, again all decorated like the smaller ones we’d seen, but this time Father Christmas came out and greeted us! He walked along the length of the carriages with a couple of elves, talked to us all, and gave the children a present each and a sweet treat to anyone who wanted one. Andrew was keen to unwrap his right away, and was very happy to find a lovely soft toy penguin inside. Joel was interested in his too, and underneath the paper as he ripped it off was a lovely soft toy snow leopard. The boys were happy with their presents, and Father Christmas waved us off on our way back to the station. We even saw his sleigh and some reindeer just past the hut.

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Eventually we drew back up at the station and got off the train. It was a decent length ride for little people, and I was glad that we’d combined a trip to a railway with seeing Father Christmas, because at only £6.50 per adult and under 2s are free, I thought it was very reasonable compared to some of the local places where you pay £5 each just to go and visit Father Christmas in a grotto. And besides, the boys are too young to really appreciate Father Christmas yet, but combined with a train, it went down very well!

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We then headed over to the play ground where we attempted to have a bit of lunch, though the kids were more interested in playing on the climbing frames, slide and see saw, especially as there was a train made out of wooden logs – even complete with a bell to ding. Joel’s party trick was to try and climb up the slide, and Andrew ran around like a Duracell bunny before we persuaded him that it was probably a good idea to head home and all have a nap. We had a fantastic time at Audley End, and were so glad that we’d managed to go before leaving the area.

Linking up with the #CountryKids linky over at Coombe Mill’s blog – why not pop over and see what other families are getting up to outdoors!

 
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
 

Mill Road Winter Fair – #CountryKids

We’ve lived in Cambridge for over 7 years, and 3 years of that was near Mill Road – a lively road with lots of shops, cafes and bars that give a real multicultural and independent atmosphere to the area, so much so that there was much opposition when a Tesco express and Costa Coffee opened up on the road. However, I have never made it to the Mill Road Winter Fair that runs on the first Saturday in December every year. Tom went last year and the year before with Andrew, but I’d decided to have my usual peaceful and restful Saturday morning about the flat. But as this year was my (and Joel’s) last chance before we leave Cambridge to experience the atmosphere of the fair, which Tom highly recommended, I thought I’d give it a go and we all went as a family.

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As with most events these days, we were up and about much earlier than it started – we arrived at one end of the road at about 10am, but things weren’t due to start up properly until 10.30am. So we stopped at the park for a while, and had a run around with the ball, and Andrew went on the playground. We could see that some stalls were ready, so we went over slowly and walked through some tents which had all sorts of local crafts on display, and some great Christmas present ideas. We decided to buy some homemade biscuits, and as we walked over to a space to stop and have our snacks, Daddy told us that this particular bit of road was where the fire engine was meant to be stationed.

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There was no sign of it yet, but just as Daddy walked around to see if it was further down the road, it pulled up! Andrew was most impressed, and we stood there watching the fire-fighters get their stall outside the engine ready as we had our snack. They told us we had to wait until the road was closed to traffic at 10.30am before they would let people see inside the fire engine, so we wandered on and came back 10 minutes later to look inside. Andrew got to climb up into the cab and put on a fire helmet, whilst the fireman explained what the breathing apparatus was behind the seats that he was sat on.

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We then wandered down the road a bit more, and passed various stalls outside the shops on our way. There was food from all over the world, live music from various types of musician/band, and other entertainments and activities, including a jester that Andrew was fascinated by. The boys love listening to music, particularly when it’s live, so we had to stop and listen/dance several times. Apart from the inevitable music stops, we were also shown how to make a simple angel decoration for the Christmas tree at one stall. Another attraction that grabbed Andrew’s attention was the free red helium balloons that they were giving away at one of the churches on the road. The first one he was given flew away within about 10 seconds (see the sky photo below – I don’t think he quite understood that it wouldn’t come back if he let go!), so he was kindly offered another and kept hold of that until we tied it onto him.

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Half way down this long road is a railway bridge, so of course we had to stop and look at the trains going in and out of the station for a few minutes, until we persuaded him that there was more interesting stuff to see and do further on. More helium balloons could be spotted in the distance, purple ones not red this time, but first we had to navigate through a crowd of people watching the Morris dancers in the middle of the road! That was fun to watch for a while, as was a drumming band and a flute quartet.

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As we neared the end of the road, which Andrew had keenly walked all the way down, and Joel was on my back most of the time, they were both clearly getting tired from all the activity. There was just one last thing to stop and look at: a bike hooked up to a generator which powered an amplifier system so that when someone pedalled the bike you could hear a band play! Daddy thought this was very clever, though Andrew was more concerned to say hello to a giant penguin who was walking round giving out treats from his stocking.

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We didn’t get chance to stop and look at everything or do all the free activities for kids on the way, there was just so much going on. The atmosphere was amazing, so good to see such a lively and friendly community spirit, with people from all different walks of life sharing their talents, cuisine and Christmas messages. I’m glad Joel and I got to go to this fair before we leave Cambridge, I will definitely remember the fun we had, even if he doesn’t!

Linking up with #CountryKids again, because outdoor fun can happen anywhere, in the middle of a city as well as in the countryside 🙂

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Mince pies with a twist

As it’s practically dark by the time the boys are awake from afternoon naps and we’ve got ready to go out, we can’t go to the park or even in the garden really, so baking and craft activities have been filling our late afternoons and early evenings recently. And as we’re in December, I thought it was time for some Christmas baking.

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I don’t eat loads of mince pies, but it’s always nice to have a few over the Christmas period, and as I’m trying to use up jars and tins in the cupboards, I thought it would be fun to add some stem ginger that I opened a while ago to the mince meat, to add extra favour and spice. I prefer to make mince pies with unsweetened pastry, because the mince meat itself is so sweet, and to add another flavour I decided to put some cinnamon in with the flour. Finally, I added a splash of Amaretto to the filling, again because the bottle I have could do with using up having sat there untouched for a while since we’ve had kids.

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Andrew enjoys rolling out pastry, so that was also a good reason to make pies, and he helped me cut out the rounds and put them in the muffin tins – we went for deep filled pies rather than the little ones you can make in fairy cake tins.

If you’d like to give these a go, here’s the recipe….

Ingredients – makes 10 deep fill pies

Filling

  • 400g jar of mincemeat
  • about 4 chunks of stem ginger, cut into small cubes
  • optional: splash of Amaretto (or any other alcohol that you like)
Pastry
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 225g plain flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • cold water

Method

  1. Lightly grease the holes in a muffin tin, and preheat the oven to 180ºC (fan).
  2. Put the flour and cinnamon in a bowl and mix until evenly distributed.
  3. Chop the butter into smallish chunks (make sure it’s as cold as possible) and toss into the flour.
  4. Use your hands to work the butter into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs.
  5. Add a small amount of water at a time and mix until it starts to form a stiff dough, then leave to one side whilst you mix the filling.
  6. Mix the ingredients for the filling together in another bowl.
  7. Take the pastry and roll out on a floured surface.
  8. Cut 10 larger circles and 10 smaller circles to fit the size of the muffin tin holes.
  9. Place the larger circles in the holes, fill with the filling, then places the lids on top, sealing with a bit of cold water run around the rim and the pastry pieces pressed together.
  10. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until the pastry is lightly golden.
  11. Leave to cool in the tins, before turning out with the help of a sharp knife to loosen them from the tin.
  12. Eat as fresh as possible, and they can also be frozen.

Counting down to Christmas

On Sunday, the boys looked inside the first stocking on their Advent calendar line of ‘socks’ (as Andrew refers to it); they got a chocolate treat, and we decided that they can take it in turns to consume the contents of the day’s sock – odds for Andrew and evens for Joel. This is our way of counting down the days until Christmas, which will soon be here. I’ve always enjoyed Christmas, and since having children it has become exciting seeing it from a child’s perspective again. The boys love spending time with their grandparents, uncles and aunts, and they get to do a lot of this over Christmas. Of course presents feature quite a lot over the days that we spend with family, and it is lovely to see the genuine joy expressed as a toddler rips the paper off and excitedly looks to see what’s inside.

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Although all the celebrations are exciting in themselves, I also hope that my boys will come to understand the reason why we celebrate Christmas. Advent (from the Latin ‘adventus’ meaning ‘coming’) is a time when we as Christians often reflect on how Jesus, God’s son, came into this world as a baby. It was a very low-key event in earthly terms – his teenage mum from Nazereth (a small unassuming village back then) travelled heavily pregnant to Bethlehem to comply with the ruling Roman orders, and gave birth there in a shed of animals; only a few shepherds (who were fairly low in social status back then) heard about the birth immediately and visited soon after. Yet the reason why Jesus came meant that his birth was extraordinary, and certainly something that deserves a huge celebration over 2000 years later.

So why did Jesus come to Earth? The short answer is: because God loves us. Every week at our church, the kids all gather at the front before they go to their groups and we sing an action song together. This Sunday, the first in Advent, the song was a fantastic reminder of God’s love for everyone He’s made – here are the lyrics, and, if you can stand the slight cheesiness, a video of the tune and actions…

Some of us are big and tall
Some of us are very small
Some of us like pink and some like blue
Some of us like reading books
Some of us like feeding ducks
That’s because we’re different, me and you

But God loves everyone he’s made
God loves each of us, in a special way…

That’s you and you and you and you
And you and you and you and you
God loves you! God loves you!
That’s you and you and you and you
And you and you and you and you
We’re part of the big family of God!

Some of us have curly hair
Some of us have specs to wear
All of us have different families
Some of us are very loud
Some of us don’t make a sound
That’s because we’re different, you and me

But God loves everyone he’s made
God loves each of us, in a special way…

[© 2007 Song Solutions Daybreak, www.songsolutions.org, CCLI# 5100093]

…One of the points of this song is a very important one for children to pick up – to know they are loved no matter what they look like or what they enjoy doing, because in a world of bullying and peer pressure to conform to what is socially desirable, it’s easy to feel different and left out. And the point in this song that GOD loves everyone no matter who they are is the link back to the reason why Jesus came that first Christmas.

All the bad things, big or little, that we do, think and say in our lives separate us from God who is perfect. But God is not at all happy with that situation, because He loves us so much, and wants us to know Him as our loving Father. So God sent His only son Jesus into this world as a baby, who grew up and showed the people living in the Middle East at the time some signs of what God and Heaven are like, and then was crucified in order to take the punishment for all those bad things WE do on HIMself. But because God is greater than death, Jesus came back to life and beat death. It is through His death and rising again that anyone and everyone who believes in Jesus can know God in a close relationship and ultimately have everlasting life with Him in Heaven. It is through God’s love for us, the fact that He doesn’t want to be separated from us by bad things, that Jesus came.

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I have to admit that I’d like to spend more time this Advent reflecting on what Christmas means to me, because with two active boys to look after (one of whom doesn’t sleep beyond 4.30am most days or nap for long at a time), going out and doing all sorts of other stuff, and being somewhere on a continuum of tired to exhausted most of the time recently, I have found it hard to take any opportunity I have each day to sit quietly and pray (and not fall asleep!) So the fact that I have an Advent calendar right in front of me when I sit on the sofa will hopefully serve as a reminder to share my thoughts with Jesus daily, because it really is amazing when I do 🙂

 

 

 

 

Our shoebox for Operation Christmas Child

For a few years now we’ve been joining in with Operation Christmas Child – the world’s largest children’s Christmas project, run by the Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse. The mission of the project is to demonstrate God’s love in a tangible way to needy children around the world, and together with the local church worldwide, to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

Since having children of our own, we have really appreciated how blessed we are to have enough money to feed and clothe them, as well as buy them other nice things, and to have family and friends who give us so many gifts for them that they are never in want of anything. For many children around the world, this is not what life is like.

The idea behind OCC is for people in the UK to send shoeboxes packed with gifts that children in less well-off countries would like to receive. These gifts can include various items from toys and stationary to toiletries and woolies. The shoe boxes should be wrapped up in bright and cheerful wrapping paper, and a sticker stuck on indicating if the gifts inside are for a boy or a girl and which age range they are suitable for.

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In previous years we’ve always done one for a boy, just because I happen to have seen gifts that are more suitable for boys, and since having boys myself, I guess my eye is drawn towards these items in shops anyway. This year, however, when we popped into a few shops, I mainly saw things suitable for girls (or gender neutral) so we went for that. Andrew helped me choose what to buy, and I explained that we were getting these things as presents for a little girl who lives far away from us but who would love to have some nice presents this Christmas, just like he will. I’m not sure he gets the concept of someone living far away from us, but he seemed to understand that we were buying the gifts and putting them in the box for another child.

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OCC like the gifts in the box to include items from all four categories: toys, stationary and school supplies, toiletries and other (sweets/hat/gloves/jewellery etc.) Our gifts included a bumper pack of wax crayons, a ‘Hello Kitty’ notepad/pencil/rubber/sharpener set, a beany teddy, a slinky spring, toothbrushes, soap, flannel, necklace, hair clips. All together these cost us around £10. In order to help with shipping costs, OCC also suggest a £3 donation, which can be done online by credit card.

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We decorated our shoebox with red wrapping paper on the bottom, silver wrapping paper on the lid, and a ribbon stuck on the lid (you’re not supposed to wrap the whole box up or seal it by tying ribbon around the box, because sometimes they need to look in it for customs or other reasons), and finished off with a reindeer tag on the lid. We hope that the little girl who receives it will enjoy opening it and finding out what’s inside.

If you’d like to find out more about Operation Christmas Child, and even get involved yourself by packing a shoebox (or two, or three), visit the OCC website.

Star Christmas cards

There seems to be a bit of a star theme going on on this blog this Christmas! First there were the cupcakes we made for my friend’s sister’s charity fundraising efforts, then Andrew’s nativity play costume, and now these homemade cards. One of my reasons for choosing a star as the shape to feature on the cards was that I wanted to use the finger paints that I bought last year (they seem to last ages, even having used them a few times since last Christmas) to do some potato stamp painting, and a star is a shape that is both Christmassy and simple enough that I could easily make a potato stamp using a star biscuit cutter that we have. Plus Andrew is a big fan of stars, particularly the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, so I knew he’d enjoy making cards with stars on.

Potato stamp cut with biscuit cutter and knife is ready to roll (or stamp!)

Potato stamp painting is something I haven’t done for a long time, and it reminds me of early school days. It’s such an easy and cheap way to make your own stamp – a baking potato cost me about 30p, and we already had a star cutter for making biscuits and playing with play dough. I cut the potato in half, and pressed the cutter into it and took it out again; I then cut out the potato from around the edges of the star to the edge of the potato, to a depth of about 0.5cm.

Andrew enjoying helping me paint the stamp before pressing it onto the paper.

The paint we used was some blue finger paint that came as a set of 4 pots (with red, yellow and green too). We stamped one blue star into the centre of A5 orange paper (A4 cut in half) – blue and orange are complementary colours, so the star stands out well on the background. Once the paint was dry, we stuck some glittery mini star stickers randomly around the big star, to make it look like a starry sky (with a bit of imagination 😉 ). Then to assemble the cards, I chopped a 1cm border off each edge of the orange paper, and stuck it down using double-sided tape onto A4 brown thick card folded in half.

11 stars drying overnight on our kitchen floor.

I always like to make (or buy) my Christmas cards with a design that reflects the real reason for Christmas, rather than something seasonal like snowmen, robins or holly. That was another reason for choosing a star – it was a star that marked the place where Jesus was born, so it had a vital role in the first Christmas. To go with this star design, I printed the text of a Bible verse that tells of the Magi’s (or ‘kings’ or ‘wise men’ as they are traditionally known) encounter with the star that shone over Bethlehem:

The star the Magi had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
Matthew 2:9-10

We then stuck this verse onto the inside of the cards, the opposite side to where I wanted to write the greeting. I used a silver pen to write on the brown card. And that’s all there was to our card making, pretty simple really, but something Andrew could get involved with and enjoy doing!

A finished card, ready to write and send!