a belated christmas post

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I had no time after Christmas to post a little update. Four days post the big one we were packing and cleaning and packing and tidying and packing and trying to get organised. It felt like groundhog day trying to get us and the kids out of here. On the 28th we were finally On. Our. Way. down to our family’s little country hideaway. We got back today and we are lucky enough to be heading off again on Thursday in the opposite direction to spend time with the other side of the family on the coast. I feel blessed to have these little hideaways that our parents generously allow us to visit. Without them we would not be in a position to have a holiday for a very long time.

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Christmas came and went and for us is always spread out over a couple of days with the various groups of family we have. It was the first year that our biggest kid really got into the spirit of it all and went to bed tingling with thoughts of Father Christmas, reindeer and surprises to open the following morning. I remember those days so well and am reliving the thrill of it all through her big brown eyes.

IMG_2888Like I have spoken about before, I am very conscious of not have a house full of discarded toys, but instead having meaningful and well loved things to play with. The biggest attends Montessori once a week so much of our play is inspired by the beautiful Montessori setting, but I also really love Steiner environments and philosophies as well. I am not qualified in either and what we do is just a mix of things I have seen, liked and feel comfortable with.

She was given a lot of lovely gifts on Christmas Day, which I predicted, so at home that morning she just had a few simple presents to open, the main one being a secondhand doll’s house that I found on a local Buy Swap and Sell group. Well worth checking out on Facebook to see if you have one near you! I was so thrilled to find this secondhand as I feel uncomfortable about our throw away society, and like to re-use things where possible and instill this value in my children. I couldn’t care in the slightest that my child is getting something that isn’t ‘brand new’ and if anything I think it adds to the character and value of many of the things she owns. The well loved doll’s house in the picture above is a perfect example of this, I love it, and I think I am having more fun playing with it than she is!

This Christmas was probably the most joyful day I have had, the build up, the advent calendar, the excitement… I really am loving Christmas again and am so pleased to be starting new traditions with my little family. I should probably admit now that at 11pm on Christmas Eve I realised that I didn’t have anything for the littlest as I had spent so much time focussing on the biggest. Bad Mother Alert!!! Luckily I had a few things in the shop that I could wrap up at the last minute. Sorry darling baby.

What traditions do you celebrate with your kids? Do you celebrate traditions that you didn’t as a child? I’m interested to know as we started celebrating Winter Solstice last year which is something we never did as kids in my family. This year we will also celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day to show our friends and family how much we love and appreciate them (puke, sorry.)

* Does my littlest not remind you of a tiny wee possum? She is such a little pixie.

a word about toys

Sheesh. Toys are coming out of my ears at the moment. I remember feeling this kind of tightening, icky type of stress when I was pregnant. An I-Must-Get-Rid-Of-Everything-Around-Me-Until-This-House-Is-Virtually-Empty type anxiety that seemed to blow up and magnify every corner of our house that was filled with things. A few years ago I used to look around my house and see my own junk. Nowadays I am looking around and seeing toys.

TOYS.

EVERYWHERE.

This amazes me as we have been quite particular about the things we do and don’t give to N to play with. Musical CD players and things with buttons that scream at us are whisked away almost as soon as the present giver is out of sight. (Sorry). I have felt terrible about taking certain toys away, and very awkward when things are given as gifts that are larger than life and loud and gawdy and just aren’t our thing. I have often felt like a big mama-prude when for reasons unknown to me, these things just didn’t sit right, didn’t feel good.

I have become more comfortable over the last year about making choices about play things that I now know are good for my girl, despite what other’s might say or think (mainly those of the older generation and/or friends and family who don’t have children.) I used to think I just needed to loosen up, but then I made some careful observations of N in different environments. When she is surrounded by a lot of things/toys/stuff, and you actually take the time to sit down and quietly watch, it’s amazing what you see. She is like the tassie devil, going from one thing to the next, not really engaging in anything in particular. I have often seen her flinging things over her shoulders, discarding things where she stands as her eyes are already launching onto the next object.

Maybe this wouldn’t bother me so much, and I’d just put it down to ‘toddler behaviour’ if it weren’t for the fact that I have also quietly observed her with just a few simple toys around her – either at home, or at Montessori where there are plenty of other children around to distract her. I have seen her selecting one thing, sitting down and quietly engaging with it for a good amount of time. Yesterday she was playing with some small bits and pieces I had put in a wooden bowl – a gumnut, a stick, some finger puppets and some little wooden dolls. She pulled out the stick and was looking at it for a little while before saying, “Look Mummy, it’s an em-oo!” And yes, indeedy, that stick certainly did resemble an emu. She then spent time bopping it along the table and getting it to say hello to this and that. I think the emu even got to share her lunch and have a little drink of water.

I have been reading Simplicity Parenting recently, a book I bought ages ago but have never had the time to sit down and read properly. The bits I have read, I love. In it, Kim John Payne talks about “the power of less” and states, “A smaller, more manageable quantity of toys invites deeper play and engagement. An avalanche of toys invites emotional disconnect and a sense of overwhelm.” And, I might add, a gigantic mess for mummy to trip over, clean up, step on, argue with toddler about.

The storage of toys is also a constant dilemma in our relatively small house. It’s becoming even more of an issue now that we have two kids, and we are being given toys for the baby too. I was looking at all our toys today, and realised they are now found in almost all rooms of our house in some shape or form – bath toys, special toys in the cupboard, a box of toys in the back lounge, outdoor toys on the deck… it’s amazing how fast we have accumulated so much. I think this weekend could be a good time to start going through them and simplifying what we have.

That and all the sewing projects I want to get done, cooking for the week, gardening, book reading, coffee drinking, washing, park playing, dog walking…

Uh… maybe I should rethink the to-do list…

Happy Saturday!