Friday, 30 November 2012

Advent Calendar.

This year I have found myself Pinspired to throw away our cardboard advent calendars and make us one that can be reused each year.

I largely made it up as I went along and I think it has not come out too badly considering my lack of forethought and the fact that I did the majority of it with a cracking hangover.  

It's a fairly simple design - I cut out 24 squares of fabric from my Christmas material and hemmed them using iron on interfacing.  I interfaced a block of felt, then cut out the numbers using the magnetic ones that I have on my fridge as a guide.  I then stuck the numbers on with fabric glue and took a break overnight.  When I came back to it, I reinforced the numbers by sewing round the edges of them (this was probably the most time consuming part).  I then became sidetracked by making a Christmas wall hanging which I had vague ideas of putting the pockets onto, but came back instead to a plain back ground.  I cut out two equal rectangles, on one I ironed on yet more interfacing, and on the other I sewed the pockets on.  I sewed round three sides, leaving the top of each pocket free so that I can put stuff in it.  Then I sewed the two pieces together inside out, putting bits of ribbon in the right place for hanging and finally I turned it the right way round and sewed all around the edge to finish it off.  Simples.  It's not perfect, I certainly wouldn't try to sell it to anyone, but it will do for what I want it for.

And what I want it for is this - as well as the usual chocolates that I will put in each pocket (The Eldest was VERY keen to make sure that she would still get chocolate), I have a Christmas activity to do each day.  When we dish out the chocolate each morning, we'll also pull out a piece of paper that has today's activity on it.  The following our the ones I thought would be good for us, and I've decided which day they should be on, bearing in mind whether or not the day fell on the weekend etc etc.

Choose and decorate a Christmas tree.
Write your letter to Father Christmas.
Make paper chains to decorate the house.
Make paper snowflakes
Write your Christmas cards.
Go to a Christmas Pantomine.
Give your cards out to your friends.
Bake some Christmas Cookies
Decorate some Christmas Cookies
Dance to some Christmas music.
Watch a Christmas movie
Have a Christmas Party
Make Fudge and cookies for your teachers.
Colour a Christmas picture.
Ring their Aunt and sing Jingle bells to her.
Read a Christmas story.
Give Cards and presents to your teachers.
Make a cotton wool snowman.
Drive up to see Granny and Granddad in Norfolk and Go for a walk in the dark with torches.
Visit Father Christmas in his Grotto.
Open the Christmas Eve Box (with new pjs and slippers in, a christmas movie, hot chocolate supplies etc)

There are loads of other ideas around on Pinterest and elsewhere on the net, I just picked the ones that worked for us.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Could we not just pretend we've already had this battle and I've already won?

I like to pick and choose my battles, but some are thrust upon me.  Every morning I battle with The Boy to get him up and dressed for school.  I always win, eventually, but I am getting fed up with it.  This morning I did indeed say, "Boy (well, actually I used his name, but I shall call him Boy here), could we not just pretend that we've already had this battle and just move on to the point where you give in and get dressed?", but for some reason that didn't wash with a 4 year old.

Angelic now, but you just try getting them dressed for school.
A good friend of mine has recently decided that pocket money should be linked to behaviour and I am rapidly coming round to her way of thinking.  We haven't introduced pocket money yet, but at 6 and 4, I think that the eldest two may be ready for it.  The Boy certainly seemed keen when I mentioned it to him and The Eldest called out from her bath that she would like a reward chart too.  I am more than sure that the Feral One will rapidly get the idea and set up some scheme to diddle the older two out of theirs, save up, invest, buy, sell and end up owning the world and ruling us all.

Plotting to rule the world.
I have to work out an appropriate amount - enough to buy a comic and a chocolate bar at the local shop would probably be about right, if I can deal with the tantrums that are bound to erupt when they don't have enough.  I also need to work out what needs to go on it and to not make it too complicated as I'm tempted to put down every single piece of behaviour on it, but I know I need to focus on just a select few. Just the morning routine for now, we can work on other things once we have that on the go.  I think that we will design them tomorrow after school and I will let you know how we get on.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Sometimes I dream of returning to work...

Most of the time I enjoy my job/role as a mother/housewife/bottom-wiper in chief.  90% of the time anyway.  But days like today, when The Husband came in from work to find me lying, defeated, on the playroom floor while The Boy gently kicked my head from his position on the sofa and the baby used me as a trampoline (the older girls were "playing" pushing), dogs unwalked because The Boy was ill and off school, yesterday's washing unsorted in the sitting room, with today's piled on top of it - I long for the peace of working in a class room of 8 year olds.

It's been quite a tough couple of days actually - The Boy has been sickening/ill and has thrown several impressive tantrums.  One of them today involved me removing him from the car and setting him on the side of the road because he refused to do his seatbelt up, and when I did it up, he undid it again.  After half a minute of screaming (from him I might add, I had my temper just about in check), I let him back in the car, he did his seatbelt up and we were able to continue on our way, but it was draining nonetheless.  The Baby has also been a touch trying with several tantrums of her own - unusual for her really, but she's learning from the best.  When she's not throwing tantrums, she's emptying the kitchen cupboards, or escaping up the stairs, or taking or the DVDs off the shelves. The Feral One has weed on the sofa several times and The Eldest has been very Aspergic (that's not even a real word, but it sums her up). Added to that a course of antibiotics for me and The Husband returning to work after a week off and any old ladies who tell me to "enjoy every minute" are likely to get their eyes poked out.

Of course, I know that I won't return to work, not yet anyway.  Childcare costs for 4 children under 7 would wipe out my salary, not to mention paying someone to come in and walk the dogs.  Getting nutritious meals on the table is hard enough when I have all day to prepare them, god knows how I would manage it if I were out all day.

Most importantly for me though, 90% of the time I really do feel genuinely grateful that I can spend these years at home with my babies.  I try to remember this through the tougher times.  Tomorrow is another day, lets hope that it's a bit more successful than this one.